Judge refuses to hear Baldia factory owners’ bail plea

Published: November 23, 2012
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Factory owners’ lawyer said his clients are aggrieved as they lost their precious asset. PHOTO: FILE

Factory owners’ lawyer said his clients are aggrieved as they lost their precious asset. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

A Sindh High Court (SHC) judge refused to hear the bail plea of the owners of the Baldia garment factory on Thursday.

Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, two of the three owners of the Ali Enterprises factory that caught fire in September and killed over 250 workers, had gone to court seeking bail. Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi declined to even hear their application for a post-arrest bail.

The police had booked them under charges of murder, mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage and attempt to murder.

In the bail application, their lawyer, Amir Raza Naqvi, had argued that the investigation was faulty and full of errors. Thus, the police implicated the factory owners to victimise them, he said. “The police have forced the witnesses to record their statements against the factory owners, who are already aggrieved as they lost their precious asset – their factory,” he said.

The lawyer had pleaded to the high court to extent relief of bail to his clients, who were implicated in the case and were behind bars.

On Monday, Justice Rizvi had issued notices to the prosecutor general and others after hearing the initial arguments on the bail application. When the case was again taken up on Thursday, the judge declined to hear the plea saying, “not before me”. The bail application is likely to be fixed before another bench soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (7)

  • fubarrrr
    Nov 23, 2012 - 3:05AM

    It’s obviously MQM putting the pressure. Wow. This is absolutely disgusting!!

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  • Asif J
    Nov 27, 2012 - 5:57PM

    Judicial System of Pakistan is totally messed up. How can judge refuse a case? There was news that 2 or 3 Judges have refused to hear the case. Strict action should be taken against these judges by the Supreme Court. In fact these Judges should be fired for corrupting the judicial system of Pakistan. Firstly, a businessman who has done favors on Pakistan by conducting business in such difficult business environment, gets wrongly accused and sent to Jail without a Trial and now that he wants the Bail and Trial, no Judge wants the case. What a Joke?? Pakistan is a total Joke?

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  • Asif J
    Nov 27, 2012 - 5:59PM

    By the way, what are these Coward Judges scared of ??
    OR Maybe they want money to hear the case…

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  • Dec 9, 2012 - 3:28AM

    I don’t know about judges what are they thinking, but if people thinking owners are innocent, guys think again. I have been buying apparel from Pakistan (Karachi & Lahore) for over 30 years now. Gross violations of labor laws by factory owners, bad working conditions in factories, child labor even in certified factories, all government departments and inspectors on factories payroll etc etc etc. These owners have made millions of dollars. Courts and judges should visit should pay attention to their lifestyle. They all live in big fancy houses like mansions in Defence, KDA, Clifton (most expensive residential neighborhoods of Karachi) and can someone tell me what they have done for their workers? Why Ali Enterprise European customer KIK has to pay workers in Pakistan? Is KIK responsible for all those deaths? If that’s the case IAM buying from Karachi and my company buys a lot from many factories in Pakistan and tomorrow if there will be a fire in any of the factories Iam buying from will I be responsible for that? All responsibility goes to factory owners and not the buyer.Recommend

  • Asif J
    Dec 9, 2012 - 11:58PM

    Chris, my friend, mostly you are right and I agree with most of your points but few things I want to clarify, which you have misunderstood:

    1) It’s a fact (You can check yourself) that nobody asked KIK to pay anything and you are right foreign buyers are not liable. KIK DID send some money to be distributed to the victim’s families, only in good faith. I think this was a very noble thing they did, but nobody forced them to. This money was also quickly distributed by the uncles of the factory owners. Even factory owners want to give money to the victim’s families but they will only be able to do this once their accounts are unfrozen,

    2) The main issue is not whose fault this was. Putting all the blame on the owners without investigating the incident is WRONG. Doing a Media trial is Wrong. Punishing them without a court trial is wrong. Judges not willing to try their cases in their courts is WRONG. These are all human right violations. The incident must be properly investigated , then a trial in court should be conducted and then if they are clearly found at fault, then only they should be punished…

    3) Stereo-typing is also another problem. You said ALL garment vendors treat their workers poorly. You have not been to all factories. This is same as saying that if one buyer in New York defaults, we make a statement that all American Buyers are thieves and we should only work on Advance payments, You know this is not true. Many factory owners go out of the way to help their workers and many would go even further but companies like Walmart does not allow this due to very strict and sharp pricing. Everyone know a $2.00 garment is retailing for $20 in USA.

    If, God Forbid, a Virgin Atlantic Jet crashes killing all on board, you will not arrest Richard Branson without FAA and NTSB investigations are complete and even if that points to Owner negligence, you will give him a complete fair trial before thinking of throwing him in Jail. Karachi Garment factory incident was a big tragedy but similarly Owners cannot be thrown in the Jail. This is not civilized. The factory owners surrendered their passports, their accounts are frozen; they have significant ties in Pakistan and certainly not a flight risk; hence they should at least be allowed to stay at home near family and work on the investigation and legal matter etc.

    You have an opinion based on the norms of your country. Here emergency services are not even comparable. In case of fire, you are lucky to get the fire engines at your premise within 30 to 40 minutes and mostly they don’t even have water….Look at any fire incident in Karachi. There is no concept of fire fighting here. We don’t have the resources who can fight fire; they always wait for the fire to go out naturally…..

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  • Dec 10, 2012 - 9:04AM

    Mr Asif,
    I have been following this very closely from the day first and Iam not saying owners are at fault 100% but in a country like Pakistan Iam sorry to say everybody is corrupt and the big responsibility goes the owners. Who will do the right investigation in Pakistan? For what I read aome Pakistani trade unions or workers unions informed KIK that they will file law suits in international courts so KIK did what they have to do instead of fighting legal battle as it will cost them more or less the same what they paid so it was a right business move.
    And you are absolutely right about judicial system in Pakistan as I don’t understand one thing how they got bail in a different city other than Karachi where they lived and work. What about case jurisdiction, fire happened in Karachi, owners lived in Karachi and they got bails in different cities of Pakistan. And by the way judges in courts can’t be forced to hear the case if they think there decision can be biased as maybe they feel bad about 260 people who died. Even in US it’s depends on judge if they want to accept any particular case or not.
    I know many factory owners in Karachi and they are personal friends for many years and I won’t name any factory or any names here and they told me that they payoff all government departments on monthly basis from labor inspectors to mail man everybody is on their payroll.
    Regarding Walmart’s $2 garment retailing for $20 I don’t know where you come up with that. Ok ow some Walmart’s buyers in Arkansas and their gross margins on clothing are in the range of 37-43% gross, net is around 15% the most on clothing and apparel. I think they deserve to make 15%.
    I can bet you Richard Branson has very good liability insurance I will say fair guess around a billion dollars in liability insurance for their workers and passengers. Can you tell me how many factories in Karachi have liability insurance for their employees in case like fire or other accident and I can assure you they all have insurance for their factories, machinery, building inventory etc but not workers like we have here workman compensation insurance.
    Have you ever dealt with Shahid and Arshad Bhaila (now it’s too late) but I wish had and you will have a totally different opinion about them. That’s all I can say.

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  • Asif
    Dec 13, 2012 - 6:19AM

    I respect your opinions but it seems that you have had some bad business experience with Pakistan and/ or Ali Enterprises hence you seem very biased.

    Anyways, whatever our arguments; They have been charged/framed with “planned and pre meditated murder”. That is simply absurd and ridiculous. Even if all your points are true, they should be charged with Negligence maybe, but not planned Murder! I think you would at least agree to this.

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