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Kamala Mills fire: HC seeks govt reply on a plea seeking CBI probe

The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government and the city police to file affidavits in response to a petition of seven members of a family, who were injured in a fire at the Kamala Mills Compound, seeking compensation and CBI probe in the case.

A division bench of Justices S M Kemkar and M S Karnik also asked the petitioners to amend their petition, justifying the reason behind demanding a CBI investigation into the case.

Fourteen persons were killed and several others injured when a fire broke out at two pubs – 1Above and Mojo Bistro – situated at the Kamala Mills Compound in central Mumbai on December 29 last year.

The petitioners – Pratik Thakur and his family members – were at the 1Above pub for dinner at the time of the incident and had suffered burn injuries.

They alleged lapses in the police investigation as, they claim, influential people and public officials were involved.

“The owners and operators of the restaurant and bar, and the buildings, are influential people. The Mumbai police is hesitating to take action against influential persons. It would be just and proper to hand over the investigation to the CBI for securing convictions,” the petition said.

On Monday, after hearing the brief arguments, the bench told the petitioners’ lawyer, Prakash Wagh, that the high court had last month ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

However, when the petitioners insisted on a CBI probe, the HC asked them to amend their petition to include reasons as to why the case should be handed over to the central agency.

The bench has posted the petition for hearing after four weeks, by when the government and police will also have to file their affidavits.

According to the petitioners, the patrons of 1Above were not warned when the fire broke out. They alleged that the staff ran away and the patrons were stuck as there was only one exit for both restaurants and no fire exits.

“It is the duty of officers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the fire brigade to see whether restaurants and bars in their jurisdiction have followed all safety norms…It appears that 1Above and Mojo violated the rules…The officers of BMC and fire brigade have deliberately and knowingly ignored all such violations of rules,” the petitioners claimed.

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