KARACHI, Feb 2: A special public prosecutor told a sessions court on Saturday that the investigation officer of the Baldia Town factory fire case had dropped the murder charge in a supplementary charge-sheet without informing her and she wanted to give arguments against it.

The owner of the ill-fated industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and gatekeepers Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood, Ali Mohammad and Shahrukh have been charge-sheeted in the case.

Recently, the IO submitted a supplementary charge-sheet in court in which he dropped Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and charge-sheeted the suspects only in Sections 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab), 337 (Shajjah) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC read with Section 512 (record of evidence in absence of accused) of the criminal procedure code and also exempted officials of the civic agencies.

When the case came up for hearing before Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Abdullah Channa on Saturday, the special public prosecutor informed the court that the IO submitted the supplementary charge-sheet without informing her.

Subsequently, the court directed the prosecutor and the IO as well as the defence to submit their arguments on Feb 16 about the supplementary charge-sheet.

Meanwhile, the counsel for SITE managing director Abdul Rasheed Solangi, director of the labour department Zahid Gulzar Shaikh, additional controller of the civil defence Ghulam Akbar and chief inspector electrical Amjad Ali, who had been declared accused by a magistrate on Nov 14 for their alleged negligence, requested the court to confirm their interim pre-arrest bail. However, the court extended their bail till the next hearing.

The judge had also sent a reference to the district and sessions court requesting it to transfer the present case to another court since he somehow was not willing to conduct the trial. The reference is fixed before the district judge for hearing on Feb 9.

According to the prosecution, over 250 workers were killed in a devastating fire in the multi-storey factory building in Baldia Town on the evening of Sept 11 within the remit of the Site-B police station.

A case (FIR 343/12) was registered against the factory owners and others under Sections 302, 322, 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 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Site-B police station. The IO had submitted interim and final charge-sheets in which the premeditated murder charge was included.

 Ex-army man indicted in kidnap case An anti-terrorism court indicted on Saturday a retired major and his accomplice in a case pertaining to the kidnapping of a film-maker for ransom.

Retired Major Haroon Ashique and Nawaz Khan, along with their absconding accomplices, have been booked and arrested for allegedly abducting film-maker Satish Anand in October 2008 within the remit of the Frere police station and demanding a huge ransom for his safe release.

Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso of the ATC-I, who is conducting the trial inside the Karachi central prison, read out charges against them. However, the accused pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.

The court summoned all prosecution witnesses with a direction to appear before it on Feb 18 and record their evidence.

According to the prosecution, Satish Anand was kidnapped on Oct 20, 2008 in the Defence Housing Authority when he was on his way home. The kidnappers had demanded a huge ransom for his safe release.

The captive was recovered in Bannu after remaining in captivity for around six months following the payment of ransom.

A case (FIR 292/08) was registered under Section 365-A (kidnapping for ransom) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Frere police station.

Mohammad Basit Abdu Bakar and Salmanuz Zaman Siddiqui have already been acquitted in the present case for want of evidence.

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