A city court Thursday rejected bail pleas of nine men accused of causing the Deonar dumping ground fire, with Sessions Judge AS Mahatme saying they cannot be granted bail till the probe into the case is completed. In their applications, the men had claimed they were falsely implicated.
The prosecution maintained that the accused had ignited the fire inside the dumpyard to separate copper wires from their plastic cover.
For the first time, the prosecution also hinted at the fire having a political angle.
“We suspect political parties may be involved and are investigating into it,” said the prosecutor.
Though allegations of the issue being kept alive for political gains have been raised in the standing committee of the BMC, officers probing the case had so far said they had not found any political party to be involved.
A total of 15 men have been arrested for allegedly causing the fire inside the dumping ground on March 20.
Defence lawyers for the nine men argued that the police had no evidence against them.
“According to the police, two witnesses have claimed scrapdealers around the dumping ground urge that copper wires be separated from plastic before they are sold. As per the remand application, these witnesses have only told the police that they suspect this could have caused the fire on March 20. These men cannot be kept in custody based only on this,” argued advocate Shoaib Sheikh.
Other advocates claimed that there were no eyewitnesses in the case nor was the police’s claim that all the men were scrapdealers true.
The lawyers have decided to move the high court against the rejection of bail.
The police, meanwhile, claimed to have arrested two more persons who allegedly run the ‘scrap mafia’, and said their interrogation is on.
Thirteen of the 15 booked in the case are currently in judicial custody in Arthur Road jail. Their family members have alleged they were picked up on the pretext of medical tests and were sent to judicial custody without interrogation.
An inquiry into the fire by Additional Commissioner of Police Manoj Lohia is underway and is expected to be completed by next week.