One of the owners of Mumbai’s Kamala Mills compound, Ravi Bhandari, on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging his arrest in connection with a fire that claimed 14 lives in December 2017, PTI reported. Bhandari was arrested on January 21 along with fire officer Rajendra Patil and Utkarsh Pandey, who supplied hookahs to the pubs Mojo’s Bistro and 1Above, housed in the Kamla Mills compound, where the fire started. The Bombay High Court had rejected Bhandari’s bail application.
Bhandari’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that his arrest was illegal and he cannot be charged with culpable homicide. The apex court had already held in its judgments in the Bhopal gas tragedy and the Uphaar cinema hall fire cases that these are cases of negligence, which is a bailable offence, Rohatgi argued.
The court asked Bhandari to serve a copy of his petition to the Maharashtra government and listed the matter for further hearing on March 27.
A Mumbai fire brigade report concluded that the blaze had originated in the Mojo’s Bistro restaurant, and spread to the 1Above restro-bar, where 14 people died of suffocation. The restaurant had covered the terrace partially without permission and had used combustible material for its construction, the Mumbai civic body said. The 1Above restaurant also had flammable materials and it caught fire soon after.