The Bhandup police have registered an offence of culpable homicide in connection with the fire that broke out at Sunrise Hospital in a mall in Bhandup West on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, that led to the deaths by suffocation of nine patients. During a primary probe, there were several lapses found in terms of security and fire safety equipment not being checked on time, which led to the deaths, the Mumbai police said on Saturday.
The offence has been registered against six persons, including promoters of Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan who are also directors of the mall.
The FIR, which was registered late on Friday night, also names other directors of the mall, Nikita Trehan, Deepak Shirke along with now gutted Sunrise Hospital's directors Amit Singh Trehan and Sweety Jain, who are named as wanted accused by the police. Nikita is also the hospital's director.
Sham Shinde, senior inspector of Bhandup police station said, " We have registered an offence against the mall and hospital directors under IPC section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 34 (common intention)".
The fire broke out at the first floor of Dreams Mall and spread to the Sunrise Hospital on the third floor of the mall. It was brought under control after 20 hours. According to officials, while nine patients died by asphyxia, two had succumbed to COVID-19.
At the time of the incident, 78 patients were being treated at the 107-bed hospital. After the fire broke out, 67 patients were taken out of the hospital and shifted to other hospitals nearby.
According to the police, Sunrise Hospital was granted a registration certificate on October 1, 2020 to run a nursing home. Since January 2021, the hospital had been operating as a COVID care centre. Earlier, the building reportedly received notices for construction irregularities and fire safety violations.
In a statement, the management of Sunrise Hospital said, “The Dreams Mall is managed by Rahul Sahashrabuddhe since 2018 by NCLT court order. The court appointed administrator Mr Rahul to run the mall and there is no Dreams Mall management company or anyone else running it. The mall was under NCLT and the court appointed administrator was ordered to look after the operations.”
They further stated, “All the operations at the mall and the licences of the mall are the responsibility of the court appointed administrator Mr Rahul. All the hospital permissions and licences were taken and are in order and have nothing to do with the mall compliances. We wish to clarify that Dreams Mall is being run by mall administrator Rahul Sahastrabuddhe and the original owners of the mall Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan were nowhere involved in the management of this mall since August 31, 2018.”