Mumbai: A sessions court has refused clean chits to the BMC's then assistant engineer, a private contractor, an architect and a structural engineer for alleged shoddy jobs that led to a community toilet’s slab collapse in Mankhurd in 2015.
A 45-year-old woman who had gone to use the toilet had died drowning in a septic tank in the incident.
Case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder
They were booked under Indian Penal Code Sec 304 (II) which deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and is punishable by up to life imprisonment. The court said in its order that it is of the opinion that there are sufficient grounds to proceed against them. It called their applications “misconceived” and liable to be rejected.
The civic body’s then assistant engineer Keshav Dhotre, 53, who had issued a stability certificate to the structure had claimed in his plea that the incident is an accident and in routine course, he had signed some letters which do not make him responsible for the stringent charges.
Additional Sessions Judge NP Mehta said in the order that it appears he signed the certificate without visiting the site and verifying the materials used in construction. The court said that the incident that happened within five years of the construction of the public toilet shows that no proper inspection was done during its construction.
Regarding the private contractor Meena Ramani, 58, the prosecution submitted that despite not having a licence for such work, she accepted the work contract. Others who denied relief were structural engineer Raju Jain, 43, Tushar Gholap, 37, of the construction company and one Arun Sondulkar, 45.
What the accused claimed
The accused had claimed that the toilet was overused and not maintained, causing the accident. An advocate for one of the accused had argued that due to Mumbai’s humid climate, the sand available for construction was of low quality and that there was possible corrosion of steel inside the slab that collapsed due to constant use of water, contributing to the incident.
The incident took place on Mar 4, 2015, around 6.30 am. The victim Kalpana Pimple, a slum dweller, had gone to use the public toilet when its commode collapsed while she was using it and the slab along with her fell into the septic tank below. She fell into the 10-ft deep tank filled with human excreta. Her body could be retrieved only after a three-hour-long operation in which the sewage was drained by the drainage department’s trucks.
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