Orient Lab owners were issued several notices by the Environment department and the Lahore Development Authority about the dilapidated condition of the building but chose to ignore them, alleged the complainant’s counsel on Tuesday.
Advocate Khalid Rasheed was arguing against the bail petition filed by Zubair Iqbal, the Orient Labs director. The factory collapse in February had killed 26 people.
Rasheed, on behalf of Rana Amjad – who lived in the building next to the factory – said that Amjad had moved more than 20 applications in different departments, asking that they take notice of the building’s weak structure and that a factory was being operated in a residential area. Amjad told the court that every time machines were turned on, the factory and the buildings next to it would start shaking.
Taking notice on one of Amjad’s applications, the LDA had sent a team to inspect the factory, which had declared it hazardous. It was sealed and ordered to be demolished but the owners obtained a stay order from a court, said Rasheed, adding that they had also “bribed government officials”.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Malik Tariq Mehmood Zargham then adjourned proceeding till today (Wednesday), directing the district public prosecutor to start his arguments.
At the last hearing, the petitioner’s counsel had said that the collapse was an accident. Since there was no intention to hurt anyone, the accused could not be charged under Section 302. Even if negligence is established, he said, murder couldn’t be.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.