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Wednesday February 28, 2024

Govt told to investigate mall fire, compensate victims’ families

November 30, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the provincial government and other relevant departments to ensure starting the appropriate proceedings for the purpose of conducting an inquiry to find the cause of the recent fire at a multi-storey shopping centre in Gulistan-e-Jauhar that killed around a dozen people.

The SHC said that if any concrete material is found with regard to negligence, criminal proceedings against the delinquent officers of the authorities concerned be initiated in accordance with the law. The direction came on a petition seeking an inquiry into the fire incident as well as the implementation of fire safety laws in multi-storey buildings in Karachi.

In this picture, the Sindh High Court Building can be seen on September 27, 2022. —Facebook/High Court of Sindh Karachi
In this picture, the Sindh High Court Building can be seen on September 27, 2022. —Facebook/High Court of Sindh Karachi

Nadeem A Sheikh said in the petition that the fire erupted at the multi-storey building in which a call centre was also operating on the fourth floor, and some people were working there at the time of the incident. Sheikh said the employees of the call centre were unable to escape or save their lives from the fire and the smoke because no fire extinguishers or safety measures had been arranged by the owner of the building.

He said that several violations of building bye-laws relating to building security in case of a fire have been found that need to be checked by the Cantonment Board Faisal (CBF) and the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

He asked the court to issue directions to the authorities to conduct an impartial inquiry into the incident and take action, including initiation of criminal proceedings against all the delinquent officers of the relevant departments and the building owner, whose negligence caused the loss of several lives and damage to properties.

A division bench headed by acting chief justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi issued notices to the chief secretary, the SBCA, the CBF and others, telling them to file their comments on December 7. It said it is expected that in the meantime all the relevant authorities, including the provincial government, would ensure starting proceedings for the purpose of conducting an inquiry to find the cause of such a tragic incident that caused the loss of lives of innocent people. The bench said that if any concrete material is found, criminal proceedings against the delinquent officers of the authorities concerned be initiated in accordance with the law. The court said that it is expected that the provincial and local governments would compensate the affected families.