KARACHI: A sessions court on Monday dismissed an application filed by a senior official of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) seeking grant of pre-arrest bail in the Mehran Town factory fire case.

The deputy director of Sepa, Muhammad Kamran Khan, moved the district and sessions’ court (East) but the judge dismissed his application seeking bail before arrest.

The official sought pre-arrest bail as recently a judicial magistrate had ordered the investigating officer of the case to file a supplementary charge sheet against him, a general manager of K-Electric, director of Civil Defence Karachi, executive engineer of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA), administrator and deputy commissioner of district Korangi and official in charge of Fire Brigade.

The magistrate noted that the Sepa official failed to carry out inspection of the building, where the operations of the factory commenced without an Initial Environment Examination (IEE) or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) survey.

The fire allegedly caused by an electric short circuit engulfed the industrial unit, M/s BM Luggage, in Mehran Town on Aug 27 killing 16 workers.

Initially, police had booked factory’s owner Hassan Meetha alias Ali Meetha, its building’s owner Faisal Tariq, manager Syed Imran Ali Zaidi, supervisors Zafar and Rehan and watchman Syed Zarin for their alleged involvement in the fire incident.

The court also adjourned hearing till Oct 7 on their applications seeking post-arrest bail to them.

On Sept 25, the IO had filed a final investigation report holding responsible a deputy director of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), Abdul Sami, deputy director-KDA (Land) Irfan Hussain, deputy controller Civil Defence Shahabuddin and labour officer Mohammad Ali for the unfortunate incident.

The IO submitted the factory was operating on a residential plot and no action was taken by the relevant officers of the SBCA, KDA, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Civil Defence as they failed to conduct inspections or raid the subject premises.

He had recommended to the court to invoke Section 119 (public servant concealing design to commit offence which it is his duty to prevent) of the Pakistan Penal Code against the public functionaries.

However, the judge had pointed out that the IO had deliberately and malafidely omitted the names of Civil Defence director Safdar Ali Bhugio, general manage and head of new connections of KE, DC-Korangi, executive engineer of the KDA Zahid Hussain, Sepa deputy director Muhammad Kamran Khan, fire official Ishtiaq Ahmed and administrator of district Korangi from the charge sheet.

A case was registered under Sections 322 (manslaughter) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Korangi Industrial Area police station on behalf of the state through SHO Mohammad Tariq Arain.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2021

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