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Firefighters try to put out the blaze after a factory caught fire in Karachi's Mehran Town. — DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: A district and sessions judge on Monday granted bail to interned owners and four officials of a Mehran Town factory after they reached an out-of-court settlement with families of 16 workers, who died in a fire in the industrial unit in August, against payment of around Rs67,200,000 diyat (blood money).

The fire allegedly caused by an electric short-circuit had engulfed the industrial unit, BM Luggage, on Aug 27 killing the 16 workers.

Factory’s owner Hassan Meetha alias Ali Meetha, its building’s owner Faisal Tariq, manager Syed Imran Ali Zaidi, supervisors Zafar and Rehan and watchman Syed Zarin have been booked for their alleged involvement in the incident.

Police had arrested the watchman and later arrested Meetha, Tariq and Zaidi after the court revoked their interim pre-arrest bail on Aug 30.

Court grants bail to owners and four employees

Later, they moved applications seeking grant of post-arrest bail and the District and Sessions Judge (East) Khalid Hussain Shahani had reserved his order on the bail pleas on Oct 19.

While pronouncing the order on Monday, the court allowed the pleas in view of an out-of-court settlement reached by the applicants with the legal heirs of the 16 deceased factory workers.

According to the terms and conditions of the agreement, both the factory owners would pay Rs4.2 million to legal heirs of each victim. Meetha will contribute 60 per cent of the total amount while Tariq would pay remaining 40pc.

Initially, the factory owners handed over cheques for Rs1m to each family of the victims. They also agreed to pay the remaining amount of Rs3.2m to each family in instalments after every three month.

The court granted each applicant bail in the sum of Rs100,000 surety each.

Defence counsel Hassan Sabir said the court directed prison authorities to release the held factory owners and officials forthwith if their custody was not required in any other case.

Earlier, the suspects were produced from prison while the legal heirs of the deceased were also present.

The legal heirs submitted applications supported by their personal affidavits stating that they had agreed to accept diyat offered by the suspects, adding that the agreement in this regard was signed in the office of the Korangi deputy commissioner.

They submitted that they had no objection if the suspects were granted bail and released from prison in the present case.

The matter was fixed for Nov 27 when the factory owners would submit the schedule of the remaining payment to the court.

In the meanwhile, the court also confirmed interim pre-arrest bail granted to six officers of the provincial government, civic agencies and utilities, who were nominated in the case for their alleged ‘negligence’ towards conducting inspections to ensure safety of the workers at their workplace and failure in initiating timely rescue operation.

A case was registered under Sections 322 (manslaughter) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Korangi Industrial Area police station on behalf of the state.

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