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AMRI director gets bail, pleas of four others rejected

February 17, 2012 19:26 IST
The Calcutta high court granted bail to AMRI director R S Agarwal but rejected similar pleas of four other board members of the private hospital, where over 90 people suffocated to death in the December 9 fire tragedy. A division bench, comprising Justice Asim Roy and Justice Tarun Gupta, granted the bail prayer of Agarwal and rejected those of R S Goenka, Manish Goenka, Prasant Goenka and Ravi Todi.

The division bench directed that the bail prayers of the four were being rejected at this stage but gave them liberty to move the court again after conclusion of the investigation into the fire. The accused, charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, have been in custody for the last 70 days.

With the chargesheet in the case yet to be submitted, state counsel Kalyan Banerjee assured the court that it would be done within the stipulated 90 days from the date of registration of the case.

Agarwal's counsel had submitted that his client had not attended any board meeting of AMRI Hospitals in 2011 since he has been ill for a long time and as such could not be held responsible in any manner. Agarwal is at present admitted at the state-run SSKM Hospital.

Banerjee had opposed the bail and submitted that the AMRI authorities had deliberately violated norms and stored cotton and medical supplies in the basement of the building, where the fire occurred. He had also stated that there was a fire in October last year, before the one on December 9, when an employee was suspended for having informed the fire brigade.

Banerjee claimed that the employees on duty on the fateful night had not informed the fire brigade because of fear of action by the authorities. He also claimed that if released on bail, the accused could try to influence witnesses in the case.

Balai Roy, counsel for all the five accused, had submitted that day-to-day affairs of the hospital was not run by the board and as such its members could not be held responsible for the fire. He submitted that the AMRI board of directors had not taken any resolution to keep cotton and other materials in the basement of the seven-storied, centrally air-conditioned building.

Neither was there any resolution to take action against any employee if the fire brigade was informed, he submitted.

A total of nine directors and four employees were arrested in the case, of whom only octogenarian Moni Chetri, director and in whose name the hospital's license was given, was earlier granted bail by a lower court on medical grounds and due to his age.

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