The High Court on Sunday advised lawyers to bring their compensation petitions once the bodies of workers killed in the Shezan Juice factory fire in Narayanganj have been properly identified.
"Let the bodies be identified first. Then, bring petitions to court seeking compensation for the victims. Then the compensation order on compensation will be given," said the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim during the virtual hearing of a writ petition seeking proper medical treatment for the injured, and compensation for the dead and injured.
Terming the Shezan Juice factory fire tragic and distressful, the court expressed deep condolences.
The writ petition was filed on behalf of Ain O Shalish Kendra (Ask), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (Blast), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), and Safety and Rights Society, seeking Tk5 crore in compensation for each person killed, and Tk1 crore for each worker injured, in the Shezan factory fire.
The writ also sought immediate payment of Tk20 lakh to the family of each deceased worker, and Tk10 lakh for the family of each person injured.
Lawyers Z I Khan Panna, Sara Hossain, SM Rezaul Karim, Anik R Haque, and Shahinuzzaman appeared in court for the aggrieved petitioners. Deputy Attorney General Samarendra Nath Biswas represented the state.
Addressing the lawyers, the court said "A criminal case was filed for the fire incident and police arrested the accused. The tragic incident will be investigated now. The State Minister for Labour visited the spot after the incident and she officially promised to pay Tk2 lakh each to the victims. The labour secretary has also visited the injured at the hospital, but we don't know if that's enough."
"Let some reasonable time pass. We (the court) are observing like everyone. You also observe. Let's see how transparent the investigation is or whether it's being delayed. The court's doors are always open," said the court.
The court clarified that 51 bodies had not been identified yet which would not be possible before another 21 days. Compensation will be determined once the deceased are identified and returned to their families. The petitioners concerns are understandable but would have to wait until due process is done.
The writ petition also seeks a rule as to why action should not be taken against Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) for not implementing the building construction act in that factory's construction, and against the labour ministry secretary and officials concerned of the Department of Factory and Establishment Inspection for not ensuring the safety of the factory.
They sought a High Court order requiring the authorities concerned to submit their investigation report within two weeks and to ensure speedy treatment of the injured.
A massive fire broke out at the Shezan Juice factory, a sister concern of the Sajeeb Group in Rupganj on Thursday, killing 52 workers and injuring scores more.
A murder case was filed in connection with the incident. Police have arrested eight people in the case, including Sajeeb Group chairman Mohammad Abul Hashem. On Saturday, a Narayanganj court remanded eight people for four days.