The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted bail to a Mumbai Fire Brigade officer, who was arrested in the Kamala Mills fire case. Fire Officer Rajendra Patil was arrested, along with others, following the blaze at two roof-top restaurants in the Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai in December last year.
Justice A S Gadkari took note of the argument of Patil’s lawyer’s that though he had granted the fire-safety certificate to “1Above”, one of the two restaurants, he could not have known that the owners would later carry out structural changes on the premises, in violation of fire safety norms.
Patil had granted the certificate to “1Above” only a week before the December 29 incident, which claimed 14 lives. He was arrested under section 304, IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) for alleged dereliction of duty. The owners of both the restaurants were also among those arrested.
Patil had moved the high court after his bail plea was rejected by the sessions court. His lawyer Deepak Salvi argued that there was no way Patil could have known at the time of granting the certificate that the restaurant owners would make illegal structural changes subsequently.
The owners were solely responsible for the fire as they had illegally extended the bamboo structure, where hookahs were kept and which caught fire, he told the court. Patil’s report, while granting the fire-safety certificate, had mentioned that the terrace restaurant was an open-air one, the lawyer said, adding that the bamboo shed over it was installed later.
The court asked Patil to furnish a bond of Rs 45,000 while granting him bail.