Industries Ministry officer gets notice in bus fire case

Supreme Court
Industries Ministry officer gets notice in bus fire case

The Supreme Court Thursday issued notice to Chief Explosive Officer of the Ministry of Industries in the suo motu case regarding the Gujrat school bus fire incident in which 18 schoolchildren were burnt to death.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Gulzar Ahmed resumed hearing of the case on Thursday. During the course of proceedings, the bench was informed that the maintenance of CNG kits and their checking was the responsibility of the Explosive Department of the Ministry of Industries. Afnan Karim Kundi, counsel for Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), appeared before the bench and stated certain provisions of law describing the responsibilities and duties of OGRA and other departments.

He acknowledged that the incident occurred due to negligence, but rejected the notion that OGRA was responsible for that negligence. When the bench asked Kundi to narrate the relevant provisions of law under which OGRA should be given a clean chit in the case, Kundi expressed his inability to do so, stating that no such detailed rules had been laid down by the Ministry of Petroleum on the issue. He sought time from the court to present the provisions of law for the maintenance of vehicles or CNG kits.

The chief justice expressed amazement that such an important ministry did not have rules to prevent such tragic incidents in the future. OGRA Chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan apprised the court that the Punjab Forensic Laboratory’s report on the incident is misguiding. He said that the report stated that the incident occurred due to the leakage of gas which, he added, was altogether wrong as there was CNG holiday in the whole area for three days prior to the incident. Meanwhile, the chief justice remarked that no one was ready to take responsibility for the incident.

He inquired whether any official from the Ministry of Petroleum or OGRA visited any of the aggrieved families. The OGRA chairman replied that a technical team of OGRA had visited the site of the incident and several victims’ homes. The case has been adjourned until June 13. – DailyTimes