SHC may take notice against acquittal in Baldia factory fire case
KARACHI: Sindh High Court made it clear on Monday that it might take notice, if it considers that the appeal against acquittal of the co-accused in the Baldia factory fire case ought to have been filed and “so-called influential accused are being deliberately and intentionally shielded by the state.”
The observations came from a two-judge bench headed Justice Muhammad Karim Khan Agha during the hearing of appeals filed by two convicts, Abdul Rehman, alias Bhola, and Zubair, alias Charya, against their conviction by an Anti-Terrorism Court.
The court directed the special public prosecutor for the Rangers to seek instructions as whether appeal(s) against acquittals would be filed or not and file report on next hearing.
“This court after going through the evidence, might itself take notice, if it considers that appeals ought to have been filed and so-called influential accused are being deliberately and intentionally shielded by the state,” observed the court.
The court also dismissed as not maintainable three applications of family members of the deceased for becoming interveners observing that they were not among the complainants of the case.
In September last year, an Anti-Terrorism court had sentenced to death Bhola and Chariya and life imprisonment to four watchmen of the garments factory.
Over 260 workers had burnt alive when a fire engulfed the multi-storey building of the M/s Ali Enterprises on Sept 11, 2012.
The trial court had acquitted four suspects including then provincial minister for commerce and industries Rauf Siddiqui due to a lack of evidence against them.
During Monday’s proceedings, Advocate Yasin Azad for the appellant Zubair, alias Chariya, sought time for preparation of paper book of the case.
He maintained that appellant Zubair was a minor accused, as the main accused had been acquitted by the trial court, but the state had not filed appeals to challenge such acquittals.
In October last year, both the convicts had filed their separate appeals with the SHC challenging the death sentence awarded to them by an Anti-Terrorism court in the Baldia factory fire case.
The appellants – Bhola; a former sector in charge of MQM’s organisational structure, and Zubair alias Chariya was an activist.
The appellants had submitted that the trial court’s judgement was passed without observing the principles laid down by the apex court as the trial court failed to appreciate material contradictions in the evidence of prosecution
They added that the people died due to the negligence of factory owners and the departments concerned since there was no emergency exit point in the industrial unit.
They maintained that no evidence was produced before the trial court about the allegation of extortion.
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