KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Monday a private gas company to compensate heirs of victims of an liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker explosion.
The SHC bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, also ordered the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to constitute a committee to suggest safety measures for transportation of LPG.
The bench passed these directives while hearing a lawsuit instituted by Hazara Efficient Gas against the suspension of its licence following an LPG tanker's explosion in February this year which killed 22 people, including 12 schoolchildren, near Sheikhupura, Punjab.
The plaintiff had pleaded the court to declare the suspension of its licence by Ogra as illegal.
During Monday's proceedings, Ogra's lawyer, Asim Iqbal, maintained that the plaintiff lacked safety arrangements that led to the suspension of its licence.
He contended that Ogra had directed the plaintiff to compensate the victims' legal heirs, but instead of giving the compensation, the company had approached the court to challenge the revocation of its licence. While seconding these arguments, additional attorney general Salman Talibuddin argued that business interests cannot be preferred over human lives. He pleaded the court to reject the plaintiff's lawsuit and direct it to compensate the aggrieved families first.
The judge rejected the lawsuit, observing that the plaintiff should first ensure safety measures while transporting gas and also directed the plaintiff to compensate the victims' legal heirs within seven days.
It then directed Ogra to constitute a committee to suggest safety measures for transportation of LPG to avoid occurrence of such incidents in the future. The committee, in consultation with all the stakeholders, will suggest such measures within 30 days, the court ordered, adding that a report of the committee's suggestions should be filed with the court as well. The stakeholders include the petroleum ministry, hydro-carbon development institute, inspector explosives, IGs of all provinces and representatives of the motor vehicles fitness department.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2016.
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