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KARACHI: A prosecutor has recommended the trial of eight suspects, including builders, contractors and licensed architect, on charges of “negligence and manslaughter” in a case pertaining to the death of six labourers after a lift buckled in Clifton.

Deputy district public prosecutor Dewan Bhuromal recommended this in a note of scrutiny of an investigation report prepared by the investigating officer of the case for filing it before the judicial magistrate (South) under Section 173 of the CrPC.

Six labourers, including two brothers, had died on March 9 after falling from the cradle while they were installing glasses on the 13th floor of an under-construction building in Clifton’s Block 7.

The prosecutor questions the IO for not charge-sheeting the licensed architect and engineer

Builder Mohammad Amin Patel of M/s Land Mark Enterprises, his three partners — Abdul Aziz Memon, Mohammad Munir Memon and Ameer Ali — along with private contractors Irfan-ur-Rehman of the contractor firm for glasses/lifts and Moosa Iqbal have been booked in a case registered under Sections 322 (manslaughter) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

In the investigation report, IO Sohail Akhtar Salahri charge-sheeted three suspects — Irfan-ur-Rehman, Moosa Iqbal and Amin— to face trial for manslaughter.

Pointing out shortcomings in the investigation reports, the prosecutor mentioned that the IO placed the three business partners of the builder in column no. 2 in blue ink, which means they were not charge-sheeted due to lack of evidence against them.

Initially, the police had registered a case against Mr Patel, Mr Iqbal and Irfan for the death of the six men. The investigation was conducted by Inspector Syed Ghous Alam, who visited the place of the incident and took steel-like wire of the damaged cradle along with clip, nut and torn rope/belt in his possession and also photographed the site.

On March 10, the IO mentioned that suspect Irfan was arrested and he was produced before a judicial magistrate for recording his statement on March 12.

Upon being assigned the case, the present IO also recorded statements of the suspects and witnesses and obtained copies of the building plan approved by the Sindh Building Control Authority and information about terms and conditions of the approved plan.

According to the plan, the licensed architect had undertaken the responsibility of supervision of the construction work of the said building project. A report, provided by the SBCA, further revealed that as per Condition No. 4 of the structure’s no-objection certificate, the structural engineer was also responsible to depute full-time engineers at the construction site to instruct the deputies and the contractors always in writing.

Furthermore, as per Condition No. 2 of the structure NOC (in case of mishap) at the project’s building site the structural engineer and owners/developers would be held responsible, it added.

Finally, the SBCA in its report held the owner/developers and licensed professionals of the said project responsible for not performing their obligatory duties/responsibilities as defined in the Karachi Building and Town Planning Rules, 2002.

“However, it is important to mention here that an instant charge sheet is very silent in respect of the licensed architect Habib Fida Ali and licensed engineer Khalil Ahmed for the reasons best known to the investigating officer,” the prosecutor noted.

The prosecutor observed that the IO also got a report of the technical committee comprising five members including the current IO of the case and one technical member Dr Nasiruddin Shaikh, a professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the NED University.

After inspecting the site and examining the material of the damaged cradle, a technical member found that the unfortunate incident occurred due to improper fastening, insufficient tightening of the nuts and loosely assembled few or all six “U” bolts and calm assemblies, the prosecutor mentioned.

The committee further found that on the day the ill-fated labourers were standing on the said cradle without wearing safety belts and helmets, he added.

Mr Bhuromal maintained that during interrogatory statements, the three other suspects had admitted their partnership with the owner of M/s Land Mark Enterprises, but all three could not produce any documentary evidence in respect of their claim.

The prosecutor concluded that in the light of the available evidence/reports, all the accused persons shown in the different columns of the charge sheet as well as the licensed professional architect Habib Fida Ali and engineer Khalil Ahmed had committed serious negligence towards work of fixing the glasses being carried out by the ill-fated labourers in such a risky manner, resultantly six precious lives were lost.

“Hence, they all are liable to face charge under Sections 322 (manslaughter) 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC,” the prosecutor added.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2019