KARACHI, Oct 18: A sessions court on Thursday allowed an application filed by police seeking the custody of the Bhaila brothers and factory’s general manager in the Baldia fire case.
Setting aside an order of a judicial magistrate who sent the suspects to jail on judicial remand, additional district and sessions judge (west) Abdullah Channa directed the jail authorities to hand over the custody of Arshad Bhaila, Shahid Bhaila and Mansoor to the police investigators between dawn and dusk for a couple of days.
The judge ordered the investigating officer to get the custody of the suspects on Oct 19 and 20 after the sunrise and bring them back to the prison before the sunset, with a direction that the suspects be interrogated only at the Site-B police station.
The court also directed jail officials to hold medical check-up of the suspects before handing them over to the police and after getting back their custody.
A superintendent of police (investigation) had submitted the application in the sessions court, challenging the judicial remand order and seeking physical custody of the three suspects for interrogation.
The applicant stated that the police had sought the custody of the Bhaila brothers but they were sent to prison on Oct 6 by the judicial magistrate shortly after the dismissal of their pre-arrest bail applications. The general manager of the gutted factory Mansoor, who is also the key suspect in the case, was also in jail custody, the applicant added.
The SP stated that 47 workers were still missing and the bodies of around 70 victims had not been identified so far. The custody of the suspects was needed to get some important record, he added.
Opposing the plea, the defence counsel argued that the police had already filed an interim charge-sheet while the suspects had also joined the investigation on an order of the Larkana bench of the Sindh High Court.
According to the interim report filed by the IO under Section 173 of the criminal procedure code, the industrial unit owner, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, who is on bail, his two sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers have been charge-sheeted.
Over 250 workers died in the devastating fire that had engulfed the multi-storey garment factory building in Baldia Town on the evening of Sept 11 within the remit of the Site-B police station, according to the prosecution.
On Oct 1, the owner of the industrial unit and his two sons got interim pre-arrest bail by surrendering themselves before the trial court on the last day of their protective bail garneted by the SHC Larkana bench on Sept 14 and extended by a Lahore High Court bench in Rawalpindi. On Oct 6, the trial court confirmed the bail of Aziz Bhaila and dismissed the applications of his sons.
A case (FIR 343/2012) was lodged against the factory owners and others under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 322 (qatl-bis-sabab), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage etc.), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), 337 (Shajjah) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Site-B police station.