Legal views on 2011 AMRI Hospital Fire

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A devastating [accident occurred at the AMRI Hospital] in Dhakuria, Kolkata on the early morning of December 9, 2011 killing 91 dead, most of whom are patients who were admitted in the hospital for treatment. The Government of West Bengal and the District Administration swiftly worked to rescue people in the hospital.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the negligence to take fire preventive measures that resulted in the fire is an unforgiven crime. She issued orders cancelling the hospital's license.

An FIR has also been lodged against the AMRI Hospital authorities by the Fire Department. The police said that the first information received about the fire was on its emergency telephone number at 4:05 AM.

Noted industrialists SK Todi and RS Goenka along with four other directors of the AMRI hospital were arrested. Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Damayanti Sen said that they were booked for several non-bailable offenses. Todi is the chairman of the Shrachi Group, while Goenka is the chairman of the Emami Group. SK Todi surrendered himself at the police headquarters after the incident.

The Bar Association of Alipore Court asked its members not to represent the accused in the case. Amitava Ganguly, lawyer representing one of the accused said, 'Let that be recorded that we could not move the bail petition.' Trinamool Congress MP and Counsel for the State, Kalyan Benerjee said that there have been reckless violations of the law by the hospital.

Case under Section 304, 308, 34 of IPC along with charges under Section 11C of West Bengal Fire Services Act were pressed.

Ravi Todi of SRAACHI Group, D Agarwal, AMRI official, S K Todi, Prasanta Goenka, Manish Goenka, Radheshyam Goenka, all Directors of the hospital were remanded to police custody in Kolkata. The Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate has sent the six accused to ten days police custody till December 20, 2011. The seventh accused in the case Radheshyam Agarwal who was hospitalized before the incident and undergoing treatment is yet to be arrested formally. The prayer for his police custody will be moved on physical production.

On January 27, 2012, after about 50 days of the accident, two eminent doctors who are also Directors of the hospital are arrested from their home. The reasons delay in the arrest was because the police wanted to ensure that the doctors are involved in the day-to-day operations of the hospital and that there is proper documentary evidence in place. Dr. Mani Chhetri's name was mentioned in the license of the hospital. He was a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding for the setting up of the pharmacy. Dr Probab Dasgupta was involved in the daily operations.

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