A co-owner of Mumbai’s Kamala Mills compound, where 14 people died after a fire broke out on December 29, withdrew his plea against arrest in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, PTI reported. Ravi Surajmal Bhandari withdrew his petition after the top court asked him to approach the trial court handling the case, to seek bail.
Bhandari had claimed in his plea that he could not be held responsible for the tragedy and called his arrest “illegal detention”. But the Supreme Court bench of judges AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked how a habeas corpus petition can be filed when the accused is in judicial custody. A habeas corpus is a plea requiring a person under arrest to be produced before a court, to secure the person’s release.
Bhandari was arrested in January along with fire officer Rajendra Patil and Utkarsh Pandey, who supplied hookahs to two pubs housed within the compound, Mojo’s Bistro and 1Above. The fire had started at Mojo’s Bistro and spread to the adjacent restaurant 1Above.
Bhandari’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi had told the Supreme Court that his arrest was illegal and he cannot be charged with culpable homicide. The top court had already held in its judgements 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.