After hastily claiming that there was no criminal intent on part of civic officials as far the September 27 Dockyard Road building collapse was concerned, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now toughened its stand against 18 officials facing an inquiry, of whom three were arrested. The civic body is probing the “culpability” of its employees in its inquiry into the Baba Genu municipal market building collapse.
Last week, the administration told members of the standing committee that it would write to the Mumbai Commissioner of Police requesting that the charge under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the three arrested officials be dropped. The corporation said laxity on the part of the administration, which is believed to have caused the building collapse, cannot be viewed as “criminal negligence” as it is “civil negligence”.
However on Wednesday, Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani, who is in charge of the administrative inquiry, said the letter to the police chief would be sent only after BMC’s preliminary probe was over, and if the three officers were given a clean chit. “We are investigating the culpability of the officers. Section 304 may apply to some officials if they have purposely ignored warnings,” said Adtani.
“For instance, if it is found that the civic officer knew of the illegal construction on the ground floor but did not take action, he is culpable. If an officer was aware that the main columns and beams had been taken apart but did not act, then he is culpable. We are exploring all these possibilities.”
So far, in the civic body’s administrative inquiry into the incident, 18 civic engineers, including 10 officials from the markets department and eight from the Planning & Design (P&D) department, have come under the scanner. Of these, eight have been suspended.
On October 3, at the standing committee meeting, Adtani had said, “There has been serious procedural negligence on part of the civic officers as far as the movement of the file is concerned. It is clear, though, that there was no deliberate intention to delay work. Hence, criminal