As the scope of investigation of the country’s worst industrial disaster widens to include government quarters, three senior officers facing arrest have obtained protective bail before the Sindh High Court could issue orders.
Initially, police had only booked the factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhailla and his two sons, Arshad and Shahid – for the deadly blaze at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town that claimed the lives of over 250 workers on September 11. The case was registered under murder and negligence charges.
On November 14, the district and sessions court hearing the case had found four government officials – Labour director Zahid Qurban Shaikh, SITE managing director Rashid Ahmed Solangi, Civil Defence additional controller Ghulam Akbar and Karachi Region-II electric inspector Amjad Ali Mahesar – guilty of criminal negligence in the case. Subsequently, non-bailable arrest warrants were issued for their arrest.
To avoid arrest, Zahid Qurban Shaikh, Rashid Ahmed Solangi and Amjad Ali Mahser went to the Sindh High Court for the grant of protective bail before arrest.
On Saturday, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi granted protective bail before arrest to Zahid Qurban Shaikh against a surety of Rs100,000 and directed him to surrender before the trial court within 10 days to join the investigation.
Shaikh’s lawyer, Ashraf Kazi, argued the applicant had nothing to do with the alleged offence, yet he was nominated as accused in the proceedings. He said the applicant wanted to surrender in the court but shall not be arrested by police.
On Friday, the SITE managing director and electrical inspector were also granted protective pre-arrest bail against Rs100,000 each by the same judge. They have also been directed to surrender before the court within 10 days.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2012.