A sessions court on Tuesday discharged the two co-owners of Kamala Mills Compound, Ramesh Gowani and Ravi Bhandari, in the Kamala Mills fire case, in which 14 people were killed in 2017.
The duo had been booked for the offences of causing death by negligence, rash or negligent act endangering life, causing grievous hurt among other offences of the Indian Penal Code, as well as under sections of the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act. The bail bonds stood cancelled and sureties discharged, Additional Sessions Judge PR Sitre said, while declaring they were set at liberty.
The discharge pleas of the other nine co-accused in the case, including those of the owners of the pubs 1 Above - Kripesh Sanghvi and Jigar Sanghvi - and Mojo’s Bistro's Yug Tuli were rejected.
Arguing for the discharge of Gowani and Bhandari, their counsel Sudeep Pasbola had told the court that they had leased the restaurant premises to the owners or partners of these for a period of five years and could not be held responsible for the acts of the owners or partners to whom they had leased the property. The restaurants allegedly had unauthorised constructions. Just because his clients had not taken action or complained against the tenants, they could not be held responsible, he had told the court. Further, he had argued, for the illegal act of the restaurant owners in running hookah parlours in the premises, his clients could not be held responsible.
Advocate Kiran Jain, who was arguing for the discharge of 1 Above owners Kripesh Sanghvi and Jigar Sanghvi, had told the court that the fire had first erupted in Mojo’s Bistro and then spread to their establishment. He had also told the court that the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which has been applied on them was not attracted as they had neither the knowledge nor the intention to cause the deaths of 14 innocent persons. Jain had argued that the employees of the hookah parlour of Mojo’s Bistro were negligent and not only had the fire erupted due to their negligence, but also spread to 1 Above.
Managers of 1 Above, Lisbon Lopes and Kewin Bawa, co-owners Kripesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar, Mojo’s Bistro co-owners Yug Pathak and Yug Tulli, fire officers Rajendra Patil, Sandeep Shinde and BMC engineer Dinesh Mahale, hookah supplier for Mojo's Bistro Utkarsh Pandey and a waiter at 1 Above, Sayyed Ali, will face charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, among other offences.