Get Your Mid-Day Gold Yearly Subscription now at Rs 899 Rs 499!

Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Bhandup mall fire Now NCLT administrator booked over blaze

Bhandup mall fire: Now, NCLT administrator booked over blaze

Updated on: 22 June,2021 11:35 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Anurag Kamble |

Cops book NCLT administrator for March Bhandup mall fire that claimed 11, while official says he alerted BMC to safety risks; police say no clean chit yet for mall owner, hospital authorities

Bhandup mall fire: Now, NCLT administrator booked over blaze

Firefighters battle the blaze at Dreams Mall in Bhandup on March 25

Nearly three months after 11 Covid-19 patients were killed in a fire at Sunrise Hospital in Bhandup, the police have booked the administrator of Dreams Mall, which housed the medical facility, saying he knew about the mall’s inactive firefighting system but made no attempts to fix it. The NCLT-appointed official says he alerted the BMC about safety risks. The police added they haven’t yet given a clean chit to the mall owner or hospital authorities.

The fire-ravaged HDIL Dreams Mall at Bhandup. The blaze started on the first floor and spread to the third floor that housed the hospital. Pic/Rajesh Gupta
The fire-ravaged HDIL Dreams Mall at Bhandup. The blaze started on the first floor and spread to the third floor that housed the hospital. Pic/Rajesh Gupta

There were 78 Covid-19 patients at Sunrise Hospital when a fire tore through Dreams Mall on the night of March 25. The hospital staff and rescuers moved 67 patients to safety but the rest died of suffocation. A preliminary probe had shown that the mall didn’t have the Occupation Certificate and the hospital had been handed a fire NOC without mandatory checks.

The Bhandup police had registered a case against 6 people, including directors of HDIL, the mall owner, and the hospital. The alleged role of the administrator, Rahul Sahastrabuddhe, who has been appointed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), apparently emerged later. Sources said his name was added in the FIR last week.

Sources said Pona Corporation, a government-approved fire audit firm, had given a fake fire audit certificate to the hospital despite knowing that Dreams Mall’s fire apparatus was defunct. Sunrise used the certificate to get an NOC from the Mumbai Fire Brigade. The police had arrested Haresh Joshi of Pona Corporation on May 6 along with George Putthu Seri, the CEO of Privilege Healthcare that owns the hospital over the alleged fire safety violations. Both are in jail.

Rahul Sahasrabuddhe, the NCLT-appointed administrator
Rahul Sahasrabuddhe, the NCLT-appointed administrator

“Further investigation revealed that Rahul Sahastrabuddhe, the administrator appointed by NCLT, knew that the firefighting system of the mall was not working. He did nothing to fix it. When the Fire Brigade wrote to him about the same in November 2020, he acknowledged the inactiveness of the system too,” said a police officer who did not wish to be named. DCP (Zone 7) Prashant Kadam confirmed the development but refused to disclose any more details about the alleged role of the administrator.

‘Have no idea about the FIR’

Sahasrabuddhe said he had no clue about his name being added to the FIR. He told mid-day, “I don’t know about me being framed as an accused. According to the NCLT, I have immunity from any such action. If this has happened I will have to check.” The police had earlier summoned Sahasrabuddhe for investigation following which he had moved the Bombay High Court saying he had warned the BMC and fire officials about various gaps. His petition will be heard on June 24.

Legal expert’s take

Legal experts said resolution professionals do not enjoy a blanket immunity, though  Section 233 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, grants them protection for all actions taken in good faith. “Generally, once a company goes in for the IBC process, there may not be an adequate source of income for proper maintenance of properties. Hence, if a resolution professional is able to prove good faith or bona fide intentions for his actions, the court may grant him immunity,” said Makarand Joshi, founding partner, MMJC and Associates LLP.

Hospital still under probe

Sunrise Hospital authorities have told the police that the fire started on the first floor of the mall and reached the third floor where the hospital was located. In such a situation, they said, the hospital could not be held responsible. The hospital has also claimed that its staff acted in a timely manner ensuring minimum casualties. Sources said the police, however, have not dropped the investigation against Sunrise.

Mid-Day Web Stories

Mid-Day Web Stories

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK