Mumbai: Nearly five years after 76 innocents were crushed to death in a seven storey building which had collapsed – Lucky Compound in Mumbra — the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to discharge a senior civic official of Thane Municipal Corporation and a then sitting corporator.
The High Court turned down the discharge applications filed by Shrikant Sarmokdam, the deputy municipal commissioner of TMC, and Hira Patil, a local corporator from Mumbra. The civic official – Sarmokdam — is accused of not acting against the illegal building constructed by one Jamil Shaikh and also for accepting an illegal gratification of Rs. 50000, paving the way for the unauthorised structure. The second accused – Patil — favoured the main accused in the case. Instead of complaining about the structure and bringing the matter to the knowledge of the TMC, he allegedly extracted at least Rs. 4.3 lakh from the developers.
A single-judge bench of Justice Ajay Gadkari heard the applications filed by Sarmokdam and Patil challenging the orders of a Thane sessions court but refused to discharge them from the case. The building in question, which was also known as ‘Adarsh B,’ was basically an unauthorized structure constructed with extremely sub-standard materials and in a hurried manner.
It is alleged that all the men, accused in the case, did not obtain any necessary permissions. The accused, rather, managed to complete the construction at a breakneck speed within three months. On account of these irregularities, the building came down like a house of cards in April 2013 killing 76 and leaving at least 64 persons seriously injured. In his ruling, Justice Gadkari considered the loss of ‘innocent’ lives and also the fact that the accused were public servants. The judge also relied on the statements of some witnesses, who identified Sarmokdam and Patil, as they would occasionally visit the site of the building in their government vehicles with a ‘beacon.’