SHC asks spy agencies to submit reports on Baldia factory fire

Published: January 13, 2015
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259 workers were killed in Baldia factory fire in September 2012. PHOTO: AFP

259 workers were killed in Baldia factory fire in September 2012. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Tuesday the chiefs of various intelligence agencies to submit reports, if any, on the Baldia factory fire that killed 259 workers in September 2012.

The Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and the paramilitary force have been asked to submit their reports within two weeks.

These directions came after the additional attorney general informed the judges that these agencies have failed to provide any investigation report in response to the letters he wrote to them. The bench was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the causes of the worst industrial disaster in the country’s history, action against the owners of Ali Enterprises factory and prompt payment of compensation to the victims’ families.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, assistant prosecutor general Muntazir Mehdi said that DIG Sultan Khawaja is currently supervising the investigation, in pursuance of the court order passed earlier.

The investigation reports have been compiled and will be filed within a week, he informed, requesting the court allow more time. The two-judge bench gave him one week.

Meanwhile, additional attorney general Salman Talibuddin said he sent letters requesting the spy agencies to submit investigation reports in the matter. However, they have yet to respond, he added. “We would, therefore, direct issuance of notices to the heads of the above agencies for submission of reports, if any possessed by them, within 15 days from today,” ordered the bench members.

Compensation

An SHC official submitted a report that 400 of the 1,200 legal heirs have already been given their compensation cheques. The cheques for the remaining 800 heirs will be delivered within 15 days, he assured. Disposing of the Nazir’s report, the bench ordered him to submit a detailed report containing the names of the legal heirs after they receive the cheques.

The additional director of the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution, Arshad Iqbal Rajput, said that the legal heirs of 214 deceased have been paid compensation. He produced a list, showing cases of 15 persons are being processed, while eight claims have been rejected. The matter of payment to 13 claimants, who are underage, is also pending so far, he added.

Lawyer Faisal Siddiqui informed that the EOBI has sought copies of the relevant B-form or family registration certificate to verify the claims of the underage legal heirs but the National Database Registration Authority is not cooperating. He suggested payment be made on the basis of CNICs on which certain other compensations have already been given to the claimants by the commission appointed by the SHC.

Agreeing with the suggestion, the judges ordered EOBI to give compensation to the underage claimants on the basis of documents submitted to the commission. The hearing was adjourned till February 6.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2015.

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