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HC gives bail to engineer booked in building collapse case

Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has granted bail to an engineer of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai who had allegedly given a false report about the structure of a building that later collapsed in 2013 claiming 11 lives.

Inspite of the investigation being carried out for the last more than two years, a charge sheet has not yet been filed against applicant Digambar Manohar Satam, the High Court observed in its May 7 order.

“The alleged wrong committed by the applicant by suppressing true state of affairs and submitting a wrong report to his superiors in 2009, cannot be connected as the sole or even a major and primary factor leading to collapse of the building more than four years thereafter, so as to treat the applicant on a different footing from others,” Justice Abhay Thipsay said.

“In any case, it is not possible to hold that the applicant is not entitled to be released on bail because of the enormity of the tragedy. In fact, nothing is going to be achieved by his detention in custody,” said the Judge.

Satam, who was booked in the case, surrendered before the HC on May 7. He was taken into custody and handed over to the police. However, he was granted bail on a bond of Rs 25,000 with one surety in like amount. He was asked to attend police station and make himself available for investigation as and when required.

On June 10, 2013, the ‘Aftab Manzil’ building collapsed, resulting in the death of 11 persons. The family members of the first informant and lawyer, Rizwan Merchant, died in the mishap.

After the incident, Merchant lodged a report with Mahim Police Station, pointing out that right since 2008, he had been making complaints to municipal authorities drawing their attention that the building was in a hazardous condition and that something was needed to be done urgently.

“Indeed, the incident is tragic. It is shocking that the categorical complaints lodged by Merchant were ignored by the Municipal Corporation.

“However, for the serious wrongs that have taken place at the level of Municipal Corporation, the applicant cannot be held more responsible than the other officers. Rather, the others, who had the power and authority to remedy the situation, are more to be blamed,” the HC said.

There are eight accused in this case, including the applicant. The charge sheet was filed only against three of them, who were released on bail.

Four others were earlier granted anticipatory bail while Satam was granted bail last week.

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