KARACHI: A district and sessions judge on Tuesday granted two-day time to the owners for finalising their purported out-of-court settlement with the legal heirs of 16 workers who had died in the Mehran Town factory fire.

The fire allegedly caused by an electric short circuit had engulfed the industrial unit, BM Luggage, on Aug 27 killing the workers.

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 have been booked for their alleged involvement in the incident. Police had arrested the watchman and later Meetha, Tariq and Zaidi after the district and sessions judge (East) revoked interim pre-arrest bail granted to them on Aug 30. Later, they moved fresh applications seeking grant of post-arrest bail and District and Sessions Judge (East) Khalid Hussain Shahani reserved his order on the bail pleas on Oct 19.

On Tuesday, when the matter came up, the defence counsel for the interned factory owners informed that his clients were in the process of reaching an out-of-court settlement with the legal heirs of the victims.

He also produced personal affidavits signed by the legal heirs of the seven victims, saying that they had agreed to settle the matter with the factory owners against payment of compensation. Similarly, the legal heirs of nine other victims had already submitted their compromise applications with the court, he added.

The counsel informed that the factory’s owner Hassan Meetha and its building’s owner Faisal Tariq had agreed to pay a total of Rs4.2 million as diyat (monetary compensation) to the legal heirs of the victims over a period of two years. Mr Meetha would contribute 60 per cent of the amount while Tariq 40pc, the counsel added.

The court was also informed that initially each family would receive a cheque for Rs1 million while Rs400,000 after every six months from the remaining amount.

The counsel informed that legal heirs would formally sign the agreement before the Korangi deputy commissioner on Nov 17 (today) after which the same would be placed in court for its approval.

The court was told that none of the officers of the provincial government, civic agencies or utilities nominated by the investigating officer in the charge sheet would be liable to pay any monetary compensation to the victims’ legal heirs.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2021

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