AMRI director gets bail, plea of 4 others rejected

The Calcutta HC granted bail to AMRI director RS Agarwal but rejected similar pleas of four other board members of the private hospital.

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday
granted bail to AMRI director RS Agarwal but rejected
similar pleas of four other board members of the private
hospital, where over 90 people suffocated to death in the
December 9 fire tragedy.

A division bench, comprising Justice Asim Roy and Justice
Tarun Gupta, granted the bail prayer of Agarwal and rejected
those of RS Goenka, Manish Goenka, Prasant Goenka and Ravi

The division bench directed that the bail prayers of the
four were being rejected at this stage but gave them liberty
to move the court again after conclusion of the investigation
into the fire.

The accused, charged with culpable homicide not amounting
to murder, have been in custody for the last 70 days.

With the chargesheet in the case yet to be submitted,
state counsel Kalyan Banerjee assured the court that it would
be done within the stipulated 90 days from the date of
registration of the case.

Agarwal`s counsel had submitted that his client had not
attended any board meeting of AMRI Hospitals in 2011 since he
has been ill for a long time and as such could not be held
responsible in any manner.

Agarwal is at present admitted at the state-run SSKM

Banerjee had opposed the bail prayers and submitted that
the AMRI authorities had deliberately violated norms and
stored cotton and medical supplies in the basement of the
building, where the fire occurred.

He had also stated that there was a fire in October last
year, before the one on December 9, when an employee was
suspended for having informed the fire brigade.

Banerjee claimed that the employees on duty on the
fateful night had not informed the fire brigade because of
fear of action by the authorities.

He also claimed that if released on bail, the accused
could try to influence witnesses in the case.

Balai Roy, counsel for all the five accused, had
submitted that day-to-day affairs of the hospital was not run
by the board and as such its members could not be held
responsible for the fire.

Roy submitted that the AMRI board of directors had not
taken any resolution to keep cotton and other materials in the
basement of the seven-storied, centrally air-conditioned

Neither was there any resolution to take action against
any employee if the fire brigade was informed, he submitted.

A total of nine directors and four employees were
arrested in the case, of whom only octogenarian Moni Chetri,
director and in whose name the hospital`s license was given,
was earlier granted bail by a lower court on medical grounds
and due to his age.