The Bombay High Court has granted bail to the owner of a building in Mumbai's Malwani area which collapsed last year, killing 9 of his own family members.
Justice Bharati Dangre, while granting bail to Mohammed Rafique Siddiqui earlier this month, observed, "The applicant, in any case, cannot be attributed a rash and negligent act, resulting into the collapse of the building where he himself has lost his family members. He may face the consequences of the trial when the prosecution will establish and connect him to the grave and negligent act. However, at present, in the wake of the nature of the offence and the evidence collected by the prosecution and compiled in the charge-sheet, the applicant cannot be continued in detention and deserve his release on bail."
A ground plus two storey structure collapsed on June 10 last year in Mumbai's western suburb Malad, killing 11 people of which 8 were children. Of the 12 who lost their lives, 9 belonged to Siddiqui's family – Siddiqui's wife, his brother and brother's wife and six minor children. The structure was only 8-years old at that time.
An FIR was registered under various sections of IPC pertaining to causing death and grievous injuries by negligence and the contractor Ramzan Nabi Shaikh was arrested the same day. Shaikh's bail application was rejected in July last year on the basis of gravity of the accusation and the material compiled in the charge-sheet showing that he was responsible for carrying out the construction of the building which was found to be of inferior quality.
Siddiqui surrendered at the time of filing of the charge sheet on August 9 last year and has been in custody since then. His bail application was rejected once last year.
Advocate Mubin Solkar, appearing for Siddiqui, submitted before the High Court that the structure had developed cracks due to Nisarg cyclone and Siddiqui had got the repair work done immediately after this was brought to his notice.
On this aspect Justice Dangre noted, "Statement of one Mohd Junaid Mohd Javed Siddiqui to that effect is recorded and compiled in the charge-sheet. Statement of Munir Shaikh (complainant) is also on similar lines, where he stated that when the attention of the applicant/occupant of the said house was brought to the cracks developed in the building, he informed him that he had taken appropriate steps and confirmed that the building is stable."
The court ordered his release on bail on furnishing P R bond for Rs 25,000 with one or two sureties of the like amount. He has been directed to not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing the facts to Court or any Police Officer, and to not tamper with evidence. He has also been asked to report to the concerned police station on the first Monday of trimester.
Case Title : Mohammad Rafique Mohammad Saleem Siddiqui v The State of Maharashtra
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 288