KARACHI   -  A local court in Karachi on Saturday granted bail before arrest to three police officials in a case pertaining to fire at city courts. The additional district and sessions court (south) allowed applications of pre-arrest bail filed by three police officials, currently deputed as in-charge of maal khana (storehouse of case properties) in three districts -- in-charge district (central) SIP Turab Ali Mari, in-charge district (east) SIP Sattar Gopang and in-charge district (south) ASI Muhammad Shakeel Durrani -- against surety bonds of Rs50,000 each.

City Court police had registered an FIR for criminal negligence under section 427/436/285/286/34. The case was registered after four months of the incident.

According to the FIR, the fire erupted at around 2.15am inside a sealed room of the maal khana (storehouse of case properties) located on the premises of the City Courts. The case properties and evidence of criminal cases belonging to the east and south districts was destroyed in the fire. Case properties of district central were burnt partially. However, the evidence and properties of criminal cases of the west remained safe in an adjacent room that remained unaffected by the blaze. It was further stated in the FIR that the explosion occurred because live bullets kept in the maal khana went off due to the fire. The prosecution has stated that nominated police officials were allegedly involved in criminal negligence and deliberately burnt the maal khana to benefit the accused.

After getting bail, the accused have recorded their statements before the investigation officer by saying that they have locked the maal khana from outside and leaved the city courts after their duty timing. While talking to The Nation, one of the accused, ASI Muhammad Shakeel claimed that they were found innocent in the earlier inquiries, he said that several inquiry committees were formed to determine the loss of evidence and case properties and also to know the cause of the fire.

He said that a team of Punjab forensic experts had conducted an inquiry and found that the fire erupted because live explosive and bullets kept in the maal khana went off due to the fire. Similarly, a team of CTD headed by a DIG had submitted the same findings. However, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) concluded its findings that the fire has been caused by short-circuiting.