Authorities must ensure norms are followed when giving clearance for commercial establishments, the Bombay High Court said today while hearing a PIL on the fire incident at the Kamala Mills Compound here which claimed 14 lives. Former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro filed the Public Interest Litigation today seeking a judicial inquiry into the December 29 incident and also a direction to the government and the civic body to carry out fire safety audit of all eateries and restaurants in the metropolis. Ribeiro’s lawyer Sujoy Kantawala mentioned the petition before a division bench of justices R M Borde and R G Ketkar which posted it for hearing on January 15. “When authorities permit commercial establishments then there have to be some regulations. There has to be sufficient passage and access for fire engines to come and go in the case of emergencies,” Justice Borde said. Ribeiro, in his PIL, claimed that the incident has exposed gross negligence and omission of duties by the civic body officials in complying with the fire safety norms. The petition sought a direction to the fire department to conduct a comprehensive fire safety audit of each and every eatery, restaurant, pub and bar which has been issued licence by the civic body.
“The court shall also set up a judicial commission for fixing up the accountability of public officers and private persons involved in the tragic incident,” the petition said. It also sought for a special investigation team to be set up to carry out a probe into the December 29 incident. Fourteen persons died and over 30 others were injured when a fire broke out at ‘1 Above’ and ‘Mojo’s Bistro’ pubs situated in the Kamala Mills Compound in Central Mumbai on December 29.