The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the state government and Surat city police commissioner, seeking details of the investigation into the May 24 fire tragedy in a commercial complex, that claimed 22 young lives.
The court of Justice S H Vora was hearing a petition that sought transfer of the investigation from Surat Crime Branch to the state CID. Advocate Zaki Sheikh, representing the petitioner, said the court of Justice Vora has sought a status report from the Surat police commissioner on the progress in the investigation and action taken by them vis-a-vis an FIR, filed in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“The FIR was filed following a representation by the victims on May 27,” said Sheikh. Days after the fire tragedy, the victims had sought that the officials of Gujarat Electricity Board, fire brigade and Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) be added as accused in the FIR in light of the prima facie evidence.
The petition, filed by the father of one of the deceased, stated that “the police completely ignored the representation made” as the FIR had named only three persons – owners and a tenant of the unit – as accused.
Notably, three SMC officials and one engineer of Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company are among the 10 arrested so far in the case. Hence, the petition sought the transfer of the investigation from the city’s Crime Branch to the CID on grounds of bias.
Petitioner Jaysukhlal Gajera, father of Grishma who succumbed to burns on May 24, alleged “deliberate and intentional” bias on the part of the police, while registering the FIR.
“The whole incident took place because (of) no safety measures in the building and the said illegal construction was regularised by the authorities…such illegal use of the premise(s) without any fire safety measures was with the connivance and under the protective umbrella of the authorities of fire service and… SMC,” the petition alleged.
The petition added, “Unfortunately while registering the FIR the police though having knowledge of the same chose not to make any Government Servant an accused of the said offence. It is clear from even subsequent action that the police is acting in a bias manner with a view to shield Government officer responsible for such incidents.”