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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has granted bail to six suspects in a case pertaining to the death of six of a family who died after inhaling a poisonous gas at the Qasr-i-Naz government guesthouse.

Justice Nazar Akbar granted bail to the suspects against a surety of Rs1,000,000 each to the satisfaction of the trial court in view of an affidavit filed by the complainant regarding no objection to the bail applications. The order was passed on Monday.

The applicants — Pakistan Public Works Department’s superintendent engineer Nadeem Akhtar Shaikh, executive engineer Hiranand, assistant executive engineer Syed Zakir Hussain, sub-engineer Muhram Ali, guesthouse’s assistant controller Sikandar Hayat and room bearer Nisar Ahmed — have been booked and arrested in a case registered at the Civil Lines police station.

The bail is granted after complainant submits an affidavit regarding an out-of-court settlement

Six members of a family from Quetta had died during their stay at the Qasr-i-Naz guesthouse in Saddar on the night of Feb 21.

The applicants moved the Sindh High Court through their counsel after the additional district and sessions’ judge (South) dismissed their bail pleas in the case on May 30.

Advocate Tahir Mehmood Wallana filed power of attorney on behalf of complainant Dar Marjan.

The counsel also filed a statement on behalf of the complainant supported by his affidavit of no objection.

In the affidavit, Dar Marjan said he was the complainant in the FIR and paternal uncle of five of the deceased persons (children) and brother of their aunt.

The affidavit reads: “I say that I, along with the consent of all the legal heirs of the deceased persons, have compromised with all the accused persons, in the instant FIR”.

It further reads that the legal formalities were under process for withdrawal of the FIR, which is pending before the trial court.

“That I say that I have no objection if the instant bail is granted,” the complainant added in his affidavit.

He also moved an application stating that he had no objection to the grant of bail to the applicants since the process was under way to withdraw the case pending before the trial court.

The applicants, represented by Advocates Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi, Mahmood A. Qureshi, Wazir Hussain Khoso and Bilawal Channa, pleaded to the court to grant them post-arrest bail in view of no objection by the complainant, who had settled the matter out-of-court with them and would withdraw the pending case against them.

The court order said that: “Besides no objection, the legal position is that the main offence under Section 322 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) does not carry any punishment, except diyat (compensation) payable by the accused party.”

However, additional prosecutor general Rahat Ahsan submitted that the offence under Section 201 of the PPC was not compoundable.

Justice Akbar ruled that still the punishment did not fall within the prohibitory clause. In view of the affidavit, the court admitted all the applicants to bail subject to furnishing solvent surety to the satisfaction of the trial court.

Police booked and detained nine suspects, including the applicants, guesthouse’s contractor Sanobar Ahmed Khan, receptionist Abdul Hameed, waiter Sajjad Hussain and sweeper Pervaiz Bhatti for allegedly committing manslaughter and destroying the evidence.

On May 15, Judicial Magistrate (South) Sibghatullah accepted a final charge sheet and took cognizance against 10 nominated suspects under Sections 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 202 (intentional omission to give information of offence by person bound to inform), 203 (giving false information respecting an offence committed), 204 (destruction of document to prevent its production as evidence) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC.

In the final investigation report, the investigating officer charge-sheeted the suspects for negligence with regard to approving and purchasing the highly dangerous aluminium phosphide tablets used for killing insects in the room, where the victims stayed overnight and died after allegedly inhaling the poisonous gas.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019