Two ex-MQM workers challenge conviction in Baldia factory fire case

Updated 08 Oct 2020

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More than 260 workers were burnt alive in the multi-storey building of the Ali Enterprises garment factory on September 11, 2012. — AFP/File
More than 260 workers were burnt alive in the multi-storey building of the Ali Enterprises garment factory on September 11, 2012. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Two former workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement on Wednesday filed their separate appeals before the Sindh High Court challenging the death sentence handed down by an antiterrorism court in the Baldia factory fire case.

Appellants Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, a former sector in charge of MQM’s organisational structure, and Zubair alias Chariya moved the SHC against their conviction through their counsel.

Last month, the ATC had sentenced them to death and handed down life term to four watchmen of the Baldia factory. The trial court had acquitted four others including then provincial minister for commerce and industries Rauf Siddiqui.

The counsel for appellants submitted that the judgement was passed without observing the principles laid down by the apex court.

Lawyers for Rehman Bhola and Zubair Chariya file separate appeals in SHC against the ATC verdict

The lawyers further submitted that the trial court did not appreciate the material contradictions of prosecution evidence.

They added that the people died due to the negligence of factory owners and the departments concerned since there was no emergency exit point in the industrial unit.

They maintained that no evidence was produced before the trial court about the allegation of extortion.

Task force on fires summoned

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed all the members of a task force constituted for formation of law/rules regarding dealing with incidents of fire to appear in court on Nov 3.

Petitioner Nadeem Shaikh had moved the SHC stating that many incidents of fire had occurred in Karachi during recent years, but no law or rules were available to deal with such incidents.

When the petition came up for hearing before a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, assistant commissioners (general and revenue) turned up on the behalf of the commissioner office.

They confirmed that a task force had been constituted comprising five members including the petitioner.

One of the assistant commissioners submitted that the last meeting was convened in 2019 and there were no minutes of the meeting available on record to produce before the court.

On the last hearing an additional advocate general (AAG) had sought time to submit a progress report.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the bench asked what was the progress and when the last meeting of the task force was convened.

The bench directed the AAG to call all committee members of the task force on the next date of hearing.

It further directed the AAG to also call some officers from the Civil Defence and issued a notice to the director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority with a direction to depute a focal person to attend the hearing on Nov 3.

The petitioner had said that he had submitted a proposed draft of Karachi fire services act a few years ago to the chief secretary and other officials concerned, but no progress was made apart from the constitution of the task force.

He stated that the Building Code of Pakistan 2016 had also not been implemented in the province and sought direction for its implementation in Sindh and particularly in the provincial metropolis.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2020