Discharging the owners of Kamala Mills from the fire incident case of 2017 in which 14 persons had lost their lives, a sessions court has observed that it is “crystal clear” that they are not even “remotely” connected with the offence.
Of those who filed for discharge from the case, only the Kamala Mills premises owners Ravi Bhandari and Ramesh Gowani had been discharged by the court. The court said that they had handed over the premises to the owners of the restaurants and were not responsible for the acts of the staff of the outlets. The staff are directly under the control of the restaurant owners, it said and added that for the violation of rules and regulations by the staff, the owners are also responsible. Further, the court said that Bhandari and Gowani are not even remotely connected with the affairs of businesses of the restaurants and had no reason to interfere in them. Moreover, it said that they are not partners or do not have a share in the businesses. Additional Sessions Judge Prashant R. Sitre said further that the restaurant owners had claimed that they had the requisite permissions and it is not expected of the premises owners to personally verify the documents.
Rejecting the discharge pleas of fire officials Rajendra Patil and Sandeep Shinde it said that while Patil prepared a false inspection report dated on a day he was on leave without visiting the site personally, his superior Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Shinde endorsed it, knowing fully well that it was false.
They have both concealed the act of illegal construction and omitted to take strict action against owners of both the restaurants, it noted.
While rejecting the discharge pleas of the managers of 1 Above Lispon Lopes and Kewin Bawa Judge Sitre said that being the managers, they have actual control over the restaurant and all the staff are working under their directions and considering the safety of customers it was their duty to adopt safety norms. “They were aware of the illegal activities of their owners. They actually participated in the entire business,” the court said. They were present at the time of the incident but ran away from the spot without helping anybody, it stated.
On BMC Engineer Dinesh Mahale, the court said that he wilfully neglected his duty to demolish the illegal constructions of both the outlets and facilitated the crime by the restaurant owners.
On Kripesh Sanghavi and Jigar Sanghavi - co-owners of 1 Above and Yug Tuli - co-owner of Mojo’s Bistro, the court said that they knew very well that in the likely event of a fire, it will be difficult for customers to escape and is likely to endanger their lives.
The fire that erupted from fire embers from the hookah stall of Mojo’s Bistro and spread upwards to 1 Above on December 29, 2017.