Ludhiana factory collapse: Law dept initiates inquiry against absentee public prosecutor
Taking cognisance of HT’s report showcasing how a public prosecutor remained absent from a local court when owner of the plastic factory, which collapsed here recently after a massive fire killing 13 people, was produced in a local court on Thursday, a departmental inquiry has been ordered against the prosecutor.
Due to absence of the prosecutor, the police could get only one day’s remand against the factory owner, who has been booked under charges of culpable homicide, not amounting to murder.
On Friday, Punjab prosecution and litigation director Vijay Singla ordered the probe against assistant district attorney (ADA) Jatinder Singh, to be conducted by district attorney (DA) Ravinder Abrol. Besides, a show-cause notice has also been issued to Jatinder, asking him to explain in two days why he remained absent from duty on Thursday.
The prosecution department also took remedial measures with as many as four ADAs appearinsg in the court of judicial magistrate Gurpreet Kaur on Friday, when accused Inderjit Singh Gola was produced.
The accused was produced in the court at around noon with the four public prosecutors coming well prepared with their arguments. The accused’s police remand was extended by two days. He will now be produced before the duty magistrate on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Singla thanked HT for highlighting the “absenteeism” of the ADA, who was to represent the police in the case. “We have taken the issue very seriously and will take strict action against the public prosecutor for remaining absent from duty. The legal course will follow suit. A show-cause notice has been issued to him and such misconduct will never be tolerated,” he said.
‘MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS COULD BE INVOLVED’
While pleading for extension of the police remand of the accused, public prosecutors said three storeys of Gola Plastic factory were constructed illegally as in all records, only two floors of the building are shown.
They said there is strong suspicion that officials of the building branch of the municipal corporation were in connivance with the factory owner and helped him in getting clearances from various departments.They added that they need to verify the clearances given by various departments, such as industries and excise and taxation, besides the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).
Suspicion was also raised that officials of other departments could also be involved, so the custodial interrogation of the accused was most essential. It was also contended that while 13 people have died, three firemen are still not traceable, and the factory collapsed because its owner was responsible for gross violations.
DAY 5: RESCUE WORK STILL ON
Meanwhile, rescue operations by teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) continued for the fifth consecutive day as search for the three missing firemen – Manohar Lal, Sukhdev and Manpreet – from under the debris is still on.
As the teams have removed over 60% of the rubble, heaps of thick iron rods continued to pose a hindrance in rescue operations. Besides, smoke is still emanating from the debris.
Drums of thinner were also found at the site which prompted the rescue teams to ask people to move away as they feared a blast. An NDRF official said the rescue operation will be completed by Sunday.
The three families of the victims, caught in an agonising wait for their loved ones, are shattered. They stay at the site throughout the day.