Mumbai: More than a month after the Kamala Mills fire incident claimed 14 lives, the Bombay High Court today ordered setting up of a three-member independent commission to probe the incident.
The high court division bench comprising of Justice R M Borde and Justice R G Ketkar passed the order on Friday and said the commission would include a retired high court judge, an architect from a panel of architects suggested to the court, and a town planning expert, who could also be a retired bureaucrat.
The committee will look into the factors that led to the unfortunate incident and it will also name the people who should be held responsible for it. The committee will also look into the processes to be followed for all the licenses in the future, the court said.
The court has said that it will select the names of people who will be a part of the committee and decide its scope of functions.
The court rejected a request to appoint a judicial commission and said it was the prerogative of the state government to appoint one. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or the BMC had told the Bombay High Court today that there was no need for judicial inquiry into the incident.
The court arrived at the decision after hearing a PIL filed by eminent citizen and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Rebeiro. Mr. Ribeiro (88), now a social worker, said he was "very pleased" with the order.
Mr. Ribeiro had written about the growing insecurities of minorities like the Christian community in India in 2015. He had filed this PIL after there were speculations of collusion between the owners of the pubs and civic authorities to procure clearances in spite of fire hazards.
Lawyers Sujay Kantawala, Ashish Mehta, Shashwat Rai, Sonal Dangri, Ojas Hole and Brijesh Pathak appeared for the petitioner and argued his case. "I am extremely happy that our efforts for all Mumbaikars has prompted the high court to pass these directions. All the wrongdoings will now be exposed and there will be severe punishment which will follow. Kudos to our vibrant judiciary," Sujay Kantawala told NDTV.
The fire at roof-top restaurants "1 Above" and "Mojos Bistro" claimed 14 lives on December 29 last year. Experts had blamed violation of norms as one of the causes that triggered fire.
The owners of the two pubs and the owner of Kamala Mills have been arrested and booked under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life and personal safety of others) and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act. The bail applications of the owners was also rejected by Sessions Court.