THE BOMBAY High Court has recently granted bail to two Central Railway (CR) employees and a contractor arrested last month after a hoarding frame collapsed in Pune’s Juna Bazar area, causing the death of four persons.
On October 5, around 1.45 pm, as metal hoardings located on railway property were being removed in Juna Bazar, one hoarding fell on vehicles, causing the death of four persons and injuring others.
A complaint was filed with the Bundgarden police station, alleging that the hoardings were being removed without giving prior intimation to the police and without obtaining appropriate permissions. Two CR employees, junior engineer Sanjay Vishnudevsingh and blacksmith Pandurang Vanare; and Abdul Faquih, a partner with Caption
Outdoor Advertising Agency, were arrested on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
While granting bail to the three men last week, the court asked them to furnish bonds worth Rs 40,000 each.
According to the police, the advertising agency had entered into an agreement with the Central Railway and acquired advertising rights at Juna Bazar for seven years, commencing from January 15, 2016.
In 2016, the Railways had decided to conduct a structural audit of the existing advertising structures. One of the conditions was that the audit was to be proof checked by the CEOP/IIT-Bombay. The court noted that the records revealed that the agency had not complied with this condition, and so the CR directed it to remove the hoarding structures.
Faquih submitted before the court that the company, by a letter dated November 29, 2017, had terminated the agreement due to non-feasibility. But CR disputed that the agreement was terminated.
After arguments of senior counsel Amit Desai and advocate Ashwin Thool, Justice Anuja Prabhudessai held: “…the records prima facie indicate that the Central Railways had already invoked termination clause (13) of the agreement. Subsequent to the invocation of the said termination clause, M/s. Caption had sought permission to remove the hoardings. However, the same was not granted.”
“…prima facie indicates that the Central Railway had taken a decision to remove the hoarding/structures either through the Agency or through the Railways’ Engineering Department.in my considered view the applicant Abdul cannot prima facie be held responsible for non-removal of the said hoardings and consequently cannot be held responsible for the tragic incident that occurred on 5th October, 2018,” the court added.
Justice Prabhudessai held that “prosecution has not been able to show any prima facie material to indicate that the alleged incident had occurred due to any act or omission on the part” of Vishnudevsingh and Vanare.