The BMC had opposed the committee, but the state had left the decision to the court.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) has appointed a three-member judicial committee to probe the Kamala Mills fire incident as well as to see how such incidents can be avoided in the future. The court clarified that a retired HC judge, an architect of the HC panel and a retired bureaucrat or retired member of the urban development department or secretary of the town planning department would be a part of the committee. The BMC had opposed the committee, but the state had left the decision to the court.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by retired commissioner of police Julio Ribeiro, who sought that a judicial committee be set up under the Commissions of Inquiry Act to probe the Kamala Mills fire of December 29, 2017 and expose illegalities of restaurant owners as well as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officers on Thursday. 14 people were killed and over 30 injured when the fire broke out at two restaurants — 1 Above and Mojos Bistro — at Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai.
A division bench of Justice R.M. Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar was hearing the PIL filed by Mr Ribeiro. On Thursday, BMC and the state government had mentioned forth steps taken by them after the fire and a future plan to prevent such incidents. The court then commented that everything seems okay on the paper but practically nothing would be done.
On Friday, the court, while dictating its order, said, “Such incidents should not be repeated in the future. The high court said that setting up of a judicial committee was the domain of the state government… Hence, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we need to have an independent probe.”
“This committee shall go into the root of the fire incident. The committee has been set up in order to avoid repetition of such incidents in future,” the court ordered.
The court posted the petition for hearing next week when the names of the members would be finalised.
Court rejects bail pleas of 11 accused in case
A sessions court on Friday rejected the bail applications of eleven accused arrested in connection with the massive fire at Kamala Mills compound, which killed 14 persons.
Sessions judge A.L. Yawalkar rejected the bail applications filed by Lisbon Lopes, Kevin Bawa (manager and assistant managers of 1 Above ), Ramesh Gowani (owner of Kamala Mills compound), Ravi Bhandari (director of Kamala Mills Ltd), Utkarsh Pandey (owner of Nirvana, the firm which supplied hookah to the pubs), Yug Pathak and Yug Tuli (partners of Mojo’s Bistro ), Rajendra Patil (a fire brigade officer), Jigar Sanghvi, Kripesh Sanghvi and Abhijit Mankar (partners of 1 Above pub).
The defence lawyers of almost all the accused had contended that section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) is not applicable on this case because the accused did not have the intention to cause the deaths of anybody. They had contended that, at most, they could have been charged for 304 (A) (causing death by negligence), a bailable offence.
On the other hand, special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty objected the pleas, saying the accused had knowledge that such incidents could occur at any moment but failed to take precautionary steps.