The father of one of the 22 students who died in the May 24 fire at a Surat commercial complex on Friday filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court, seeking transfer of the investigation to an “independent agency like the state CID-Crime”.
The case is being currently investigated by Surat Crime Branch.
In his petition, Jaysukhlal Gajera, father of Grishma Gajera who was killed in the fire, has alleged “deliberate and intentional” bias on the part of Surat police while registering the FIR in connection with the incident.
“The whole incident took place because there were no safety measures in the building (Takshashila Arcade) and the said illegal construction was regularised by the (local civic) authorities…such illegal use of the premise without any fire safety measures was with the connivance and under the protective umbrella of the authorities of fire service and other authorities of SMC,” the petition said.
Based on such alleged “connivance”, the petitioner has raised an issue over the fact that the subsequent FIR filed named only three accused — the owners of the commercial complex and tenant of the unit (manager of the coaching classes that caught fire), and not the government officials.
“Unfortunately, while registering the FIR, the police though having knowledge of the same chose not to make any government servant an accused of the said offence. It is clear from even subsequent action that, the police is acting in a bias manner with a view to shield government officers responsible for such unfortunate incident,” the petition stated.
Incidentally, on Friday, Surat Crime Branch arrested two fire officials who were earlier suspended for alleged negligence of duty.
“In criminal law, vicarious liability occurs when one person is held liable for the criminal actions of someone else,” lawyer Zaki Sheikh, representing the petitioner, said.
Sheikh said that the victims’ families had submitted a representation to Surat Police Commissioner, three days after the incident to name the government officials as accused in the FIR, and demanded independent and impartial investigation. “But the police completely ignored the representation made by the victims’ families,” Sheikh added.
In their representation, the families had also demanded that officials of electricity board, fire brigade and SMC be named as accused in the FIR.
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