Kamala Mills Fire: Probe panel seeks extension to file report

Mumbai: The judicial commission investigating the massive fire which broke out in Kamala Mills Compound last year, will not be able to submit its first report on August 31 as directed by the Bombay High Court. This comes after the commission moved the high court through the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), seeking an extension of the time frame.

The plea was mentioned on Tuesday before a division bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Makarand Karnik, seeking an urgent hearing. The civic body counsel apprised the bench of the commission’s ‘difficulty’ in submitting its report on or before August 31.  Having considered the submission of the civic body, the bench granted an urgent hearing to the BMC and posted the matter for hearing on Thursday.

Confirming the news, head of the judicial commission, Justice Arvind Savant said, “We have only sought an extension to file our report as we are unable to prepare it before the date granted by the court. At present, we are finalising the report and are at the stage of compiling all the material. Its preparation will take time.”

He, however, maintained that the commission has not sought adjournment of the next date, which is September 17. Earlier in April this year, a bench headed by Justice Shantanu Kemkar had ordered the appointment of a three-member judicial panel to probe the Kamala Mills fire mishap of December 29, 2017, which had claimed 14 lives. The bench had set up this commission under the chairmanship of Justice (retd.) Savant, former Chief Justice of Kerala HC, to probe the matter.

Apart from Justice Savant, the commission also comprises Vasant Thakur, an architect, and K Nalinakshan, the former chief secretary.
The commission was specifically directed to submit its report on or before August 31 and the court had posted the matter for further hearing on September 17. The panel has been asked to inquire if there were any violation of norms by the owners of the land or the restaurants. It has also been asked to look into the fact if the immediate and probable cause of fire was owing to the alleged gross violations of the sanctioned plans and approvals granted by various authorities, including the BMC. The commission has been further directed to ascertain if there was any dereliction of duty on the part of officials from the BMC and the Maharashtra government. Apart from all this, the commission is also tasked with putting forth recommendations to avoid such mishaps in future.

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