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March 3, 2020

Man moves court for FIR registration over Keamari ‘gas leak’

Karachi

March 3, 2020

A man approached a city court on Monday seeking the registration of an FIR against the Karachi port authorities over the toxic gas leak incident that killed 14 people, including the plaintiff’s mother and caused illness to around 300 others.

Meanwhile, the additional district and sessions judge II of District South ordered the station house officer (SHO) of the Jackson police station to submit a detailed report regarding the incident and appear in person in the court on Saturday, March 7.

The gas leak was reported in mid-February and still remains a mystery as the federal and provincial governments have yet to reveal details of the incident. The University of Karachi’s International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences in a report had said that soya bean dust was probably mixed in the air that caused breathing problems. But an independent study later found hydrogen sulphide and nitric oxide in the samples of the air.

The applicant, Sajid Khan, a resident of Railway Colony in Keamari, who identified himself as a labourer, said on February 16 he was at work when he received a call from home that the health of his mother had severely deteriorated as she was having trouble in breathing. He took her to the Ziauddin Hospital where many patients having similar symptoms were already under treatment but his mother was pronounced dead on arrival.

He maintained that from different sources, he was informed that on the same day a cargo vessel, Herculis, landed at the berth 10 of the Keamari port and due to the negligence of the officials who were responsible for the handling of the ship, its toxic contents leaked in the air, resulting in casualties.

Khan added that he went to the Jackson police station to lodge an FIR but the SHO refused to entertain his application. He suggested that the negligence act of the port authorities was cognisable under the section 321 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and prayed to the court to pass a direction for registration of the case accordingly.

The PPC section, which the plaintiff referred to, is about Qatl-bis-sabab. Its definition explains that “Whoever, without any intention, cause death of, or cause harm to, any person, does any unlawful act which becomes a cause for the death of another person, is said to commit qatl-bis-sabab.”