KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has called for a detailed report on whether the various mandatory forensic tests at the Baldia factory fire site were carried out or not.
The division bench, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, was hearing a petition on Wednesday seeking a judicial inquiry of the fire at Ali Enterprises, where more than 250 people were burnt alive on September 11.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan among some factory workers and human rights organisations have taken the owners to court over their alleged negligence that led to the tragedy.
Various tests were to be carried out at the factory after the blaze but the authorities have yet to disclose if they have done any such forensic tests, argued Amir Raza Naqvi, the factory owners’ advocate.
He also gave the court a sealed envelope containing the details of the factory owners’ assets. The judges made the envelope a part of the record but said the decision to disclose the details shall be taken later.
Faisal Siddique, on behalf of the petitioners, stated that the inquiry commission’s report has not been submitted by officials despite the court directives.
While Shafi Muhammad Memon, the additional advocate general, stated that the government has not received any such report, the petitioners’ lawyer ruled out his contention, saying the report has in fact been delivered to the government by the commission formally.
The judges directed the additional advocate general to submit the report within one week.
Siddique also bemoaned that complete details of the compensation granted or announced for the families of factory fire victims have not been given by the respondents concerned despite court order. The judges also directed them to provide full details regarding the compensation as ordered earlier.
When the issue of some victims of factory fire still unidentified came up, the judges observed that the DNA reports of the victims have not yet been made available. The investigation officer replied that seven samples sent to a laboratory in Islamabad were returned, asking for fresh samples.
The judges again ordered the authorities to draw samples in supervision of competent professionals so that they may not be rejected in the future. The court also called for the DNA reports to be submitted within two weeks.
The hearing was put off till January 10 next year.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2012.