Monday constituted a committee under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of Kerala High Court and former Judge of Bombay High Court Justice AV Savant to probe into the Kamala Mills fire that killed 14 on December 29, 2017 and consider any violations that led to it.
The committee, consisting of names suggested by the state government, will proceed on the terms of reference submitted by the state government, which say that the committee will inquire into the culpability of the owners of restaurant and if there was any dereliction of duty by the municipal corporation as well as state government in relation to approvals and sanctions granted to the restaurant owners.
A division bench of Justice Shantanu Khemkar and Justice MS Karnik, said, “…we constitute the Committee under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr Justice AV Savant, Former CJ of Kerala HC and former Judge of this court. The members of the said committee will be Mr Vasant V Thakur, an architect and Mr K Nalinakshan, retired UD Secretary.” The court requested “the committee to submit its report on the terms of reference on or before August 31, 2018.”
Advocate Sujay Kantawala, appearing for the petitioner, requested the matter to be kept pending so that HC can monitor the process. The bench said that the remuneration of the “Chairman of the committee shall be as per the entitlement of the sitting CJ” and the remuneration of the other members will be at par with the remuneration of IAS officers. “The municipal corporation shall provide other facilities including office accommodation, conference room conveyance, staff and other necessary infrastructure within two weeks,” the bench said. The court posted the matter for further hearing on September 17.
Terming the reason for the fire at Kamala Mills as “wilful, negligent and neglectful attitude” of the authorities and the restaurant owners, former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro had filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay High Court seeking a judicial inquiry.