SHC irked over non-filing report on boat capsizing incident

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday expressed displeasure over Thatta’s Senior Superintendent of Police and deputy commissioner as they did not submit the report on a recent incident of boat capsizing near Thatta that resulted in 21 deaths and injuries to 47 others.

A division bench was hearing a petition filed by Justice Helpline, a nongovernmental organization, taking the provincial authorities to the court and submitting that the boat had drowned near Thatta due to negligence of the authorities concerned.

In Wednesday’s hearing, the judges were displeased when they came to know that no report was submitted by SSP and deputy commissioner despite its orders.

Directing them to submit the report by Jan 29, the court put off the hearing.

Earlier, the court had directed the authorities concerned to submit the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to avert such incidents in the future.

Advocate Nadeem Shaikh and Atam Parkash submitted in their petition that 68 passengers had boarded the boat from the coastal village of Buharo to attend the annual Urs of Meenhan Pathai – a shrine located on an island off the coast but their boat capsized on December 07. “It probably overturned due to high tide and overcrowding; 21 people drowned while 47 others were saved by rescue teams,” they added.

“Every year, thousands of people visit the shrine, and overcrowded boats are common. The ill-fated boat had a capacity of about 40 people at the most,” they maintained.

It was also reported that the capacity of the said boat was for only 30 to 40 persons but the boat owner overloaded the boat with more than 100 passengers.

The civil right campaigners argued that according to Boat Rules 1953, no licensed boat shall carry a greater number of passengers than the number allowed by its license or under these Rules.

Citing the chief secretary and secretaries—home, local government, maritime affairs—, Life stock & Fisheries Department director general and Fisheries Marine director as the respondents, the petitioners prayed to the court to direct the respondent to produce Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) before it so that it can ascertain who was responsible to look after the affairs of the Sindh coastal region which.

The court was further requested direct them to conduct the inquiry into the matter and produce the reports before it in stipulated time.