Mumbai: Caterer gets benefit of police lapses in 2009 food poisoning incident at BMC school

Gulam Khan had provided Gulab Jamuns, Chicken Biryani and Samosas at a farewell event for Class X students at a municipal school in Parksite in Vikhroli on Feb 25, 2009.

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Sunday, August 28, 2022, 07:33 PM IST
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Pointing out that the food samples in a food poisoning incident of 2009 at a municipal school that had landed 19 students in hospital, were collected after a 24-hour delay by which time the food would have gone stale, a magistrate in Vikhroli has acquitted a 55-year-old caterer booked for the unfortunate incident.

Gulam Khan had provided Gulab Jamuns, Chicken Biryani and Samosas at a farewell event for Class X students at a municipal school in Parksite in Vikhroli on Feb 25, 2009. 19 students were admitted at Rajawadi hospital a week before their board examinations after having the food.

As many as 40 students of the BMC-run school had fallen ill. Some had suffered giddiness and vomiting a few hours after consuming the food and had to be hospitalized. Khan, a Sakinaka resident had been booked under Indian Penal Code Section 273 (selling noxious food or drink) and Sec 337 (negligent act causing hurt or endangering life).

After the case ran for 13 years at the court, the magistrate reasoned in the judgment while acquitting the businessman, that the independent witness who was supposed to be present at the school during police procedures to collect food samples, had admitted during his testimony that his signature was taken at the police station on documents. The court also noted that he has acted as an independent witness for many cases for the Parksite police station and hence is a ‘plaint’ witness that cannot be relied on.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate KPRS Rathore also pointed out that the police had not examined the chemical analyzer whose testimony was required to show that the food was unfit for consumption. While two students who had suffered food poisoning had testified, the court said the doctor who had treated them was not examined to corroborate their testimony that they suffered from food poisoning. It said the benefit of these (lapses) obviously goes to the accused and he is entitled for acquittal.

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