SBCA took bribe to allow construction of seven-storey Gulbahar building, court told

Updated 15 Jul 2020

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Twenty-seven people had lost their lives when the multistorey building collapsed in March this year. — Dawn/File
Twenty-seven people had lost their lives when the multistorey building collapsed in March this year. — Dawn/File

KARACHI: Police on Tuesday submitted a charge sheet before a judicial magistrate against some officials of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) in a case pertaining to the collapse of a multistorey building in Gulbahar, saying the illegal construction was allowed against a bribe.

Twenty-seven people had lost their lives when the multistorey building collapsed in March this year.

The investigating officer of the case charge-sheeted SBCA deputy director Imran Ahmed alias Shaikh and building owner Javed as main accused while deputy director Sarfaraz Jamali, assistant director Maqsood Qureshi and building inspector Irfan were named for negligence and abetment.

However, the IO did not charge-sheet then Katchi Abadi director Mohammad Raqeeb and then director-Liaquatabad Amir Kamal Jafri and building inspector Abid Hussain Bhutto for lack of evidence.

The IO filed the charge sheet before the judicial magistrate (Central) and showed three sons and wife of building owner and SBCA employee Latafat Mirza as absconders.

IO names building owner, SBCA officials in charge sheet, exonerates three for ‘lack of evidence’

The charge sheet said that the SBCA had allowed seven-storey building on a 74-square-yard plot after taking a bribe and added that deputy director Imran had collected Rs150,000 from Javed against the construction of each floor of the building.

It further stated that at one stage the SBCA had demolished the third floor of the building and thereafter, the deputy director had collected an additional Rs150,000 from the owner of the building and allowed the construction to continue.

The charge sheet said that according to statements of area people, Latafat was also a representative of SBCA and he used to collect money from the area against illegal construction. However, the IO said that he could not locate and get more information about him.

The IO stated in the charge sheet that Raqeeb, currently posted as director in Lyari Town, in his statement said the SBCA director general had constituted a Katchi Abadi cell on Nov 13, 2019 and he was made the director of the cell.

However, he said the DG had abolished the cell in March this year, adding that then director-Liaquatabad Amir Jafri had sent a letter to his office regarding the details about Katchi Abadi including the area in which the building had collapsed.

The charge sheet said that as per Raqeeb the area in question was not included in Katchi Abadi while Jafri also said that this area came within the jurisdiction of the SBCA and it was the responsibility of SBCA to control illegal construction in Katchi Abadis as well.

The IO said that the owner of the collapsed building was in jail and deputy director Imran and other nominated officials of the SBCA were on bail.

According to the prosecution, 27 people including women and children lost their lives and 23 sustained injuries when the multistorey building collapsed in Gulbahar in March.

A case was registered under Sections 322 (manslaughter), 119 (public servant concealing design to commit offence which it is his duty to prevent), 337-H (punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) the Pakistan Penal Code at the Rizvia Society police station.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2020