ALMOST A year after the Kamala Mills blaze, which claimed 14 lives, the Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Kripesh Sanghvi and Jigar Sanghvi, owners of 1Above, and Yug Pathak, co-owner of Mojo’s Bistro, who were arrested in connection with the fire on December 29 last year.
On November 1 this year, Justice Prakash D Naik of the Bombay High Court had rejected the bail applications of all three.
While granting them bail on technical grounds, an SC bench of Justice A K Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer said, “Though one-and-a-half months have passed, the copy of the order is not available. It is a matter of great concern that the court passes the order in open court rejecting the bail application(s) but then the order does not see the light of the day. In such matters pertaining to the liberty of a person, we are of the opinion that copy of the order(s) should be made available immediately so that the aggrieved party is able to seek his/her redress. We, therefore, denounce this practice of the High Court, which we have repeatedly, in strongest words.”
“Because of the aforesaid reasons and ongoing through the matter, we find that many other similarly situated persons are released on bail, the petitioners herein shall also be released on bail during the pendency of trial on the terms and conditions that can be imposed by the trial court,” the bench added.
Buildings lax about safety
In the wake of the Kamala Mills blaze, the BMC had set up a special cell, which inspected 3,500 buildings this year to check for violation of fire safety norms. Over 1,500 of these buildings were found not complying with safety norms. With commercial structures blatantly flouting rules, the BMC then decided to form 34 special fire compliance cells to inspect Mumbai’s approximately three lakh buildings.
Kripesh and Jigar Sanghvi and Pathak are lodged at the Arthur Road jail. Pathak is the son of retired IPS officer K K Pathak.
The SC earlier this month granted interim bail to Yug Tuli, co-owner of Mojo’s Bistro, till his bail application is decided by the High Court. In May, the High Court granted bail to the owners of the Kamala Mills compound — Ravi Bhandari and Ramesh Govani, who were arrested for alleged violations and irregularities in constructions within the premises of Kamala Mills. According to the police, Govani and Bhandari were arrested after a Brihanmumbai Mumbai Municipal (BMC) report said they were negligent about structural changes that led to guests at the bars being unable to escape when the fire broke out.
In its report, the BMC said the fire started at Mojo’s Bistro when flying embers from coal, blowing from illegal hookahs, came in contact with cloth used to cover the gazebos at rooftop bar Mojo’s Bistro. The BMC claimed inflammable objects kept on the open-terrace led to the fire spreading to adjacent 1Above. A blocked exit and alleged illegal structures led to the patrons at 1Above being trapped and they died of suffocation, the BMC and police claimed.
The Mumbai Police has arrested 14 people, including the owners of 1Above and Mojo’s Bistro, two fire brigade officials, a BMC official and managers of 1Above.