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SC Takes 'Judicial Note' of Mumbai's Kamla Mills Fire Tragedy, Seeks Strict Safety Norms

The apex Court's observations came while dealing with a bunch of petitions by the Karnataka Live Band Restaurants Association which had challenged the validity of The Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order 2005.

Utkarsh Anand | News18.com

Updated:January 25, 2018, 7:24 PM IST
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SC Takes 'Judicial Note' of Mumbai's Kamla Mills Fire Tragedy, Seeks Strict Safety Norms
A deadly fire in two pubs - 1 Above and Mojo's Bistro - had claimed 14 lives on December 29, 2017.
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday took "judicial note" of the deadly fire in Mumbai's Kamla Mills Compound last month and urged all the stakeholders to make sure the commercial establishments comply with fire safety norms. The blaze in two pubs had claimed 14 lives.

A bench of Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre regretted that several innocent lost their lives in the Kamla Mills' fire leaving indelible marks on the minds of the people.

"We can take judicial notice of an incident that occurred in recent past in a restaurant in Mumbai where life of several innocent people sitting in the restaurants were lost due to lapses in ensuring compliance of safety measures," said the bench.

It also recalled the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy, in which 59 lives were lost due to non-observance of safety measures.

"When such incidents occur, they never obliterate from the memories of the citizen and leave a message to all the stakeholders that steps for strict compliance must be taken to avoid any such recurrence in future at any place," maintained the judges.

They said that the authorities and stakeholders should be mindful of the Court's judicial cognisance.

"We hope that all the stakeholders will keep our observations in mind," it held.

The Court's observations came while dealing with a bunch of petitions by the Karnataka Live Band Restaurants Association which had challenged the validity of The Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order 2005.

The 2005 Order was passed by the Commissioner of Police with a view to regulate the running and the functioning of the restaurants providing the facility of displaying 'Live Band Music', 'cabaret dance' and 'discotheque' in the restaurants.

The set of norms were alleged by the Association to be trampling upon fundamental right to carry on business apart from being discriminatory since not all restaurants were expected to obtain such licenses.

But the top court upheld the validity of the 2005 Order, stating that the stipulations were legally tenable and did not impinge upon any fundamental right.

"The public interest, the welfare and the safety of general public always override the right of an individual," said the Court.

It added: "There is no prohibition for any individual to carry on such business. However, if he wishes to carry on such business, he has to follow the norms and the statutory regulation framed for carrying on the business. He cannot be heard to say that he will carry on the business but without ensuring the norms and the regulations framed for the purpose."

The Court said that it should be left to the discretion of the Police Commissioner to decide which activities should be brought under the ambit of the 2005 Order and restaurants where live band performances, discotheque and cabaret dance are performed, certainly constituted a separate class from other restaurants.

It directed the Bengaluru Police Commissioner to ensure strict compliance of the regulations by all restaurants, with an emphasis on fire safety measures.

"With a view to avert any untoward incident due to breaking of fire may be for any reasons in the licensed premises, appropriate specific safety measures must be carried out under the guidance of team of experts. These steps are in public interest and it should be given precedence by the Commissioner of Police not only at the time of granting of license but also by doing regular inspection of the licensed premises without any lapse on his part," said the Court.

It asked the Commissioner to give reasonable time to restaurants, it having proper licenses, to apply for it and then act against all non-compliant establishments.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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