ASK, BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh and others [‘KTS Garments Fire’ Case]

Writ Petition No. 2019 of 2006

High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh

Facts:
A four-storied building situated at the BSCIC Industrial Area in Chittagong and used as the factory of KTS Textile and Garments caught fire and 57 workers died. At the time of the fire, the main gate was closed as per the direction of the management and there was no emergency exit. Many of the workers, finding no route of escape, simply burned to death and their bodies were found in the staircase, on the floor and on the window grilles.

Argument:
The petitioners argued that the failure of the respondents to ensure compliance with fire safety measures, the failure to prosecute the persons responsible for the deaths and injuries suffered by the workers and the failure of the statutory bodies to discharge their functions under health and safety, workers’ rights and environmental laws constituted violations of the right to life and to be treated in accordance with law as guaranteed under Articles 31 and 32 of the Constitution.

Order
: The High Court issued a Rule Nisi 16.03.2006 calling upon the respondents to show cause as to why the authorities concerned should not be directed to take necessary action as required by law to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for deaths and injuries of the victims of fire at KTS Garments in Chittagong. Pending hearing of the Rule Nisi, the Court directed the concerned authorities to submit an investigation report regarding the cause of fire and the safety measures adopted. The Court also directed the KTS authorities to submit a report of a complete account of the amount paid to the victims as compensation. The Court further directed them to ensure medical treatment of the victims of the fire. The Court observed that a National Committee should be established pursuant to the directives earlier set out in Writ Petition No 6070 of 2001 to monitor compliance by garments factories with the applicable laws on fire safety, to make recommendations to prevent any such incidents and to disseminate their reports in the press and on their website on a bi-annual basis.

Laws cited: Constitution, Articles 31 and 32, The Factories Act, 1965 and Rules 1979; The Fire Service Ordinance, 1959; The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and Rules 1997; The Building Construction Act, 1952 and Rules 1996; The Penal Code 1860; The Fatal Accident Act, 1855; The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923; The Employer’s Liability Act, 1938

Status: Pending hearing. The respondents were served with a contempt notice in 2010 for failure to comply with the Court’s orders.

 

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