BLAST and Others VS Bangladesh and Others (TAMPACO Fire and Collapse Case)

Facts: On 10.09.2016 at around 06.05am, a fire broke out and an explosion occurred at the five-storey building housing a factory of Tampaco Foils Limited, in Tongi, Dhaka, and  resulting building collapse which has led the deaths of 29 persons including workers, and the injuries of at least 50 persons, with other persons being missing. The news of the incident was widely published and broadcast in all national media during the course of 10.09.2016.  Three human rights organizations- Bangladesh Legal Aid Services and Trust (BLAST),Ain-o-Shalish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) filed the writ petition impugning the failure of the concerned authorities to discharge their statutory duties and responsibilities relating to building construction, labour safety and welfare and to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to investigate the causes of fire; and to prosecute and punish those responsible for this incident, and also to ensure adequate compensation for the victims, including long-term medical treatment for those injured, as well as rehabilitation for them and the families, and to prevent future incidents occurring by ensuring effective enforcement and implementation of workplace safety lawsin industries, in particular to ensure the fundamental rights to life and to protection of law of all workers and other people  therein.

Argument: The Petitioners argued that the failure of the respondents to ensure effective enforcement of or to comply with applicable laws on workplace and building safety, in particular, failure to prevent deaths and injuries of workers and others from a fire at the factory of TampacoFoils Limited in Tongi, Gazipur; and failure to ensure effective prosecution, punishment and accountability of persons responsible for such negligence and violation of applicable laws, and also failure of the respondents to ensure payment of adequate compensation to the persons injured, and the families of those who are deceased as a result of the fire and building collapse, constituted violations of the fundamental rights to equal protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law and to life as guaranteed under Articles 27, 31 and 32 of the Constitution and also amounting to breach of their statutory duties under the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, the Building Construction Act, 1952, the Boiler Act, 1923  and other applicable laws.

 Order:On 26.09.2016, a Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court Division comprising Mr. Justice M. Enayetur Rahimand Mr. Justice Ashish Ranjan Das issued a Rule Nisi upon the respondents to show cause as to why their failure and negligence to perform their duties should not be declared to be without lawful authority  and as to why they should not be directed to take necessary action as required by the law and the Constitution to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for the deaths and injuries of persons resulting from the factory fire and building collapse at Tampaco Foils Limited on 10.09.2016 at Tongi, Dhaka and to take all necessary measures for such purpose and for prevention of any future such occurrence, including to secure payment by the respondents of adequate compensation to the victim worker and others who have suffered injuries and to the families of the persons who have died in the said factory fire. The Hon’ble Court also pleased to issue interim order directing the respondent no. 3, the Bangladesh Bank, to identify and freeze the bank accounts of the respondents no. 16-18, the theTampaco Foils Ltd and the MD and Chairman of it to ensure that the funds held therein are provided for compensation for victims, for payment of salary, funds and other allowances of the workers of the said factory and for reconstruction of the factory building, and also direct the respondents to intimate the Hon’ble Court about the steps they have taken meanwhile in respect of ensuring adequate compensation for the victims both workers and their family members after two months by submitting a compliance report.

Laws Cited: Constitution of Bangladesh, Article Articles 11, 14, 15, 21, 27, 31, 32; Bangladesh Labour Act 2006, Building Construction Act, 1952 and the Boiler Act 1923.

Present Status: Pending Hearing

 

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