Trade bodies – including the FBCCI – did not convey condolences and display even a minimum level of accountability over this incident, says the court
The High Court has expressed dissatisfaction over the role of business organisations centring on the Shezan Juice factory fire in Narayanganj, which left 52 people dead and many others injured on 8 July.
So many workers have died, but the trade bodies, including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), have not conveyed any condolences, and have never displayed even a minimum level of accountability over this incident, the court said.
"In news reports by the media, we did not witness any positive role played by the business organisations regarding the factory fire, and we believe there is more work to be done on this matter.
"Instead of showing responsibility [where it is needed], they [trade bodies] only focus their efforts on seeking damages from the government and waivers of the loans and interests from the banks."
The special bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim made the remarks during a virtual hearing on Wednesday after lawyer Sara Hossain presented the matter of Sajeeb Group workers' due wages before the High Court.
Further criticising the role of trade bodies, the court said, "They have not sent any delegations to the scene either.
"We firmly believe that the FBCCI and other trade bodies should have played a role here. They must monitor whether the factories are running properly and whether those have any weaknesses."
Pointing out that the RMG sector has witnessed many positive changes due to the pressure from foreigners, the court said, "In our country, nothing gets done until pressure is created."
The High Court said the trade bodies had the responsibility to look after the interests of workers, and lawyers had the opportunity to do more work on these matters.
Officials from various government agencies give approval to such factories without a proper inspection, the HC said, adding that "they are doing it after taking envelopes".
The court directed officials concerned to notify the bench of any negligence found in treating the victims of Narayanganj fire.
On 11 July, four humanitarian organisations filed a writ with the High Court, seeking Tk5 crore in compensation for families of the deceased fire victims, and Tk1 crore for the injured.
They also sought Tk20 lakh for the families of the deceased, and Tk10 lakh for the injured as interim compensation.
The writ also sought submission of a probe report within two weeks and proper treatment of the injured as soon as possible.
Moreover, it requested the court to issue a rule as to why action should not be taken against officials concerned over the fire, including those at Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha for not ensuring that the factory had followed building code, and the labour ministry secretary for overlooking the factory's safety.
The court directed the authorities concerned to focus on identifying the dead bodies, making a list of the wounded victims and ensuring their proper treatment.