Amidst simmering anger over the Mumbai pub blaze of December 29, celebrated former top cop Julio F. Ribeiro on Tuesday filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court seeking an enquiry commission into the incident which claimed 14 lives.
Ribeiro, 88, is the former police commissioner of Mumbai who later deputed as the Director General of Police in Punjab and Gujarat followed by a stint as India’s Ambassador to Romania.
In his PIL, the retired IPS officer has sought the constitution of a judicial enquiry commission into the Kamala Mills Compound fire which broke out in The Mojo’s Bistro and spread to 1Above and other adjoining rooftop establishments, trapping 14 to their death and injuring 55 others.
“I have also sought a compulsory fire audit of all pubs, restaurants, hotels and eateries all over the city to avoid recurrence of similar tragedies,” Ribeiro told IANS after filing the PIL through his lawyer Sujay Kantawala.
Elaborating, he said a Special Investigation Team must be set up headed by a responsible top-ranking police officer and probe the corrupt BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, identify and take stringent action against them.
“After the pub fire, the BMC demolished over 500 illegal structures, which means they are aware of all the illegalities. We have also provided documentary proof of such violations by many eateries, which is alarming,” Ribeiro told IANS.
He accused the BMC officials of taking bribes and permitting hotels and restaurants to come up flouting all safety and security norms but now they should be “dealt with sternly”.
The PIL is expected to come up for admission and hearing soon, he said.
Soon after the Kamala Mills Compound blaze, the BMC initiated its single biggest demolition drive targeting illegal constructions in more than 600 eateries in the city.
A Mumbai Fire Brigade probe found that the blaze started in The Mojo’s Bistro due to burning embers from illegal hookahs being served to patron, and spread to other premises.
The Mumbai Police later arrested three persons, including two managers of 1Above pub, Kevin Bawa and Lisbon Lopez, and have announced a reward for the three absconding owner-partners of the pub (1Above).
On January 6, the police arrested Yug K. Pathak, the co-owner of The Mojo’s Bistro and son of former DGP-level retired IPS officer K.K. Pathak.
All have been booked under the stringent IPC law pertaining to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, among other charges.