Two officials of pharmaceutical company Efroze Chemicals who were reported by friends and family to have been secretly detained by the police were produced before a magistrate here on Wednesday, with police reporting that they had been caught the day before at the airport.
Nadir Khan Abdullah, the deputy managing director of Efroze Chemicals and the son of its owner, was remanded in police custody for two days. Shakeel Ahmed Nagra, the company’s plant general manager, was remanded in judicial custody for two weeks.
The two men are accused of criminal negligence in the manufacture of Isotab, which caused the deaths of over 150 patients of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) over a year ago.
Shadman police produced the accused before Magistrate Amir Nazeer Awan of the Model Town Courts, seeking physical remand of Nadir Abdullah for 10 days, but asking that Nagra be sent on judicial remand.
The police officials said that the two men had been arrested from Allama Iqbal International Airport, but the counsel for the accused claimed that policemen in plainclothes had abducted them as they left the District and Sessions Court on January 24 and had detained them secretly and illegally.
The lawyer for the accused also questioned what value any inquiry by the police would have, when the matter had already been investigated by the Federal Investigation Agency and a judicial commission of the Lahore High Court, and a case in this regard was being heard by the Supreme Court. He asked that the accused be sent on judicial remand so that a trial could begin quickly.
Meanwhile, Additional District and Sessions Judge Hamid Hussain, hearing a petition seeking a case against unidentified persons for the alleged abduction of Abdullah and Nagra, again sought comments from the Islampura SHO. The SHO did not turn up for the hearing on Wednesday.
In this case, petitioner Muhammad Hafeez, the regional sales manager of Efroze Chemicals, said that Abdullah and Nagra had been abducted from outside the sessions court just after they obtained interim bail. He said that the Islampura SHO had been asked to register a case, but he had refused.
And in the court of District and Sessions Judge Nazir Ahmed Ganjana on Wednesday, a hearing of the interim bail pleas of other accused in the PIC case was adjourned for a day.
At the last hearing on January 28, the judge had dismissed the interim bail pleas of Abdullah and Nagra for non-prosecution as they had not turned up, after an SP reported that they were not in police custody, as their lawyer had claimed.
On Wednesday, the judge heard from the counsel of Zulifqar Ali, Muhammad Yousaf, Dr Amir, Dr Warasat, Dr Nasir Mehmod and Tariq Rehman. They argued that their clients were not guilty of murder. One lawyer’s arguments could not be heard, so the hearing was adjourned for today (January 31).
An inquiry into the PIC deaths led by DIG Zulfiqar Cheema had recommended that cases be registered against 10 officials of Efroze Chemicals Muhammad Abdullah Feroz (the owner), Nadir Khan Abdullah, Khurram Munaf (technical director), Shakeel Nagra (plant general manager), Muhammad Imtiaz (quality control manager), Tabish Naumani (production executive), Syed Waqas Hussain (supply chain executive), Syed Iftikhar Ahmad (store officer), Syed Razi Haider Kazmi (helper) and Muhammad Shoaib Ansari (helper) under Sections 322 (negligence causing death) and 302 (murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 23/27 of the Drug Act 1976.
The inquiry committee also recommended cases against distributors Muhammad Musharraf and Tariq Rehman, the owners of Umer Trading Company, under Sections 322 of the PPC and 23/27 of the Drug Act; and against five officials and doctors at the PIC, for allegedly tampering with the stock record, under sections of the penal code for forgery and cheating. These are Muhammad Yousaf (pharmacist/store in-charge), Zulfiqar Ali (storekeeper), Dr Abdul Hameed (Store AMS), Dr Ali Hasan (Store DMS) and Dr Ameer Ali (Admin DMS).
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2013.