Five months after a fire in a flat at Jolly Maker-I Co-operative Housing Society in Cuffe Parade,the Bombay High Court has upheld a magistrates order directing that criminal proceedings be initiated against seven office-bearers of the housing society for failure to keep firefighting equipment ready for running.
This is probably the first case in which criminal proceedings have been initiated under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Act,2006,against office-bearers of a housing society for not maintaining firefighting equipment. Lawyer Satish Maneshinde,the lawyer for the person in whose flat the fire started,said,As far as I know,this is the first such case under the Act.
On May 6,Justice S C Dharmadhikari of the High Court upheld a metropolitan magistrates order passed on December 14 that criminal proceedings be started against the 7 members,who had moved the HC seeking quashing of the proceedings.
Under the Act,they are liable to imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.
In the facts of this case,to my mind,the magistrate has scrutinized the complaint allegations carefully and by taking them into account as also documents referred to,has decided to issue the process, Justice Dharmadhikari said.
The fire on December 2 had been pinned on a defective electric circuit. The judge also took note of an investigation report of the BMC authority,which stated that the fire safety equipment was removed without informing the housing society. The investigation report said the fire could not be controlled due to non-maintenance of firefighting equipment.