OBSERVING THAT he had not taken serious steps to save the tenants, the sessions court rejected the bail application of the office-bearer of Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) arrested for the Hussaini building collapse which claimed 33 lives last year. Shoaib Wajihddin, the head of tenant management department of SBUT, was arrested on March 5.
He is the first arrest in the case by Sir JJ Marg police, over six months after the building collapsed on August 31. Wajihuddin approached the sessions court last week after the Sewri magistrate’s court rejected his bail.
On Wednesday, additional sessions judge G O Agarwal heard arguments on bail. It was submitted to the court that eviction notices were issued to the tenants by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in 2011, stating that the building was in a dilapidated condition and not fit to reside and yet some of the tenants had refused to vacate the building. “Admittedly, the applicant (Wajihuddin) has submitted that attempts were being made by SBUT to get the premises vacated. The applicant showed that there was certain correspondence done with the tenants. But, it does not show that the head of the tenant department took serious steps to save the tenants,” the judge said.
The court further observed that while it was still to be concluded as to why and how the building collapsed, the incident was in the “purview of authorities including SBUT”.
“The incident is in the purview of authorities including SBUT, who evidently turned a blind eye which eventually culminated into the collapse of the building,” the court said.
The court also said that between 2014 and 2017, new tenants were inducted in the building, which is also a matter of investigation as to who inducted the tenants in Hussaini building. The building was part of the redevelopment project of SBUT. According to the applicant, after notices were issued to the tenants, in 2013, the SBUT had written to occupants offering them alternate accommodation. The court was told that five out of the 12 tenants had shifted out, while others continued to occupy the building. Advocate Abad Ponda, representing Wajihuddin, told the court that since there was no overt act committed by him, he could not be booked under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
The prosecution, however, opposed the bail plea stating that since the accused was a resident of United Kingdom, there were chances of him escaping if granted bail. An intervention application filed by one of the relatives of the victims also opposed the bail plea. The court, however, said it did not find good grounds to release the accused on bail.