Karachi: Two factory owners and two of their employees were granted bail on Monday by the Sindh High Court in the case of the Baldia Town factory fire, said to be the country’s worst industrial disaster that killed nearly 259 workers.
A single bench headed by Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai had on Jan 28 reserved the order on the bail applications of the accused, including Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, after hearing arguments of the applicants’ counsel.
The two owners of the ill-fated Ali Enterprises, represented by Advocate Amir Raza Naqvi, were arrested in the case on Oct 6 when the trial court had rejected their pre-arrest bail pleas. However, their elderly father, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, also an accused in the case, was granted bail on health grounds.
The factory’s production manager, Mansoor Ahmed, was represented by Advocate Khawaja Shamsul Islam, and Advocate Muhammad Tamaz Khan appeared on behalf of the accused watchman of the factory, Arshad Mehmood.
The factory owners were given bail in the sum of Rs1 million each and the two employees were ordered to be released on furnishing a surety of Rs200,000 each.
The defense counsel argued that the investigation so far carried out by the police was motivated and no evidence had been brought on record against their clients.
Advocate Naqvi contended that none of the witnesses had named any of the four arrested men for murder, nor did they assign any role to the accused persons.
He also referred to the statement of the investigation officer and submitted that the IO had himself stated that there was not enough evidence to charge the owners with murder.
Special Public Prosecutor Shazia Nahjrah opposed the bail applications submitting that sufficient incriminating evidence was on record to prove the roles of each accused person in the alleged offence.
She submitted that there were 830 witnesses to the tragic incident and most of them had clearly stated that the factory owners had ordered their watchmen to lock all the doors after the fire broke out.
Faisal Siddiqui, who rendered assistance in the proceedings on the court’s direction, also opposed bail to the accused.
Meanwhile, defence lawyer Amir Raza Naqvi said that none of the witnesses had nominated any of the four arrested men for murder. Investigation officer Jahanzeb also said there was not enough evidence to charge the owners with murder, he contended.