Mumbai: In what can spell more troubles for the owners of the Mojo Bistro restaurant, the Judicial Commission in its report has blamed the eatery for the entire incident. The commission has categorically said that the illegal hookah service, by the Mojo Bistro restaurant was the “immediate” cause of fire, which killed 14 innocents on December 29, 2017.
The commission headed by Chief Justice (retd.) Around Savant said, “The immediate and probable cause of fire was that Hookah was being served illegally in Mojo’s Bistro restaurant and a charcoal segree was kept burning with the help of a pedestal fan.”
“It is crystal clear that the fire started in the southern corner of the terrace occupied by Mojo’s Bistro. This resulted in flying embers coming in contact with the highly combustible material used for partition and decorating the entire terrace, as also both the restaurants; such as cotton curtains, plastic covers, etc.” the commission has noted.”Hence, owners of the restaurant Mojo’s Bistro are fully responsible for the fire,” the commission has concluded.
In its detailed report, the commission has further said the owners of both Mojo’s Bristo and 1Above committed flagrant violations in converting the entire open terrace into two full fledged restaurants divided by a partition of highly combustible material. It noted that these violations were made in the teeth of the mandatory provisions of Cigarrete and Tobacco Products Act (COPTA), 2003 and also the Smoke Free Rules, 2008.
“As a result of the fire, the patrons had no time to escape and vacate the restaurants. One of the patrons of the Mojo’s Bristo, in a video, showed how the bar tenders were performing fire play / games with glass bottles of alcohol in hand. It appeared to us from the video that it was a dargerous game being played especially when Hookah was being served with the help of a char-coal burning segree, on an open terrace with inflammable material all around and a crowd of youngsters dancing,” the report states.
In its defence, the Mojo’s Bristo blamed the “outsourced” agency for hookah services. The contention was however trashed by the commission saying, “When people visit a hotel or a restaurant, they are not concerned with what are the agencies outsourced by the eatery. It was the duty of the owners of both the restaurants to ensure that the agency they were outsourcing was conversant with the COTPA and the Smoke Free Rules for serving Hookah and that they had complied with the same,” the panel has said.