A patient being rescued from the fire-ravaged AMRI Hospitals in Dhakuria
The charges against the 16 accused in the AMRI fire case will be framed on November 16, paving the way for trial nearly two years after 91 people died in the tragedy at the Dhakuria hospital.
All nine members of the former AMRI board will have to be present before the additional district sessions judge at Alipore when the charges are framed.
The chief judicial magistrate on Tuesday sent the case to the additional district sessions judge’s court to frame the charges and hold the trial.
“The chief judicial magistrate today accepted the chargesheet against the 16 accused and sent the case to the district additional sessions judge for trial. Now the judge will hear pleas by accused for modification of the charges,” said lawyer S.N. Pandey, who is appearing for relatives of victims.
The AMRI accused had appealed to the chief judicial magistrate that they be tried under IPC section 304A (death due to negligence) instead of section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
Section 304A carries a maximum punishment of two years in jail. The other carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail.
The defendants have been accused of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, attempting to commit culpable homicide (IPC section 308) and dealing with fire or any combustible matter so as to endanger human life (section 285).
Justice Sanjib Banerjee of the high court had on September 17 sought reports from the district judge and the chief judicial magistrate of the Alipore court, in response to the petitions filed by the sons of two victims seeking an order for speedy trail.
“We had moved the high court seeking an order for speedy trial. It seems to have an impact. We are happy that trial will finally begin,” said Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, one of the petitioners, who lost mother Purnima in the fire in Annexe I of the hospital.
The other petitioner is Rana Ganguli, whose father Gouranga died in the tragedy.
AMRI Hospitals is co-owned by R.S. Goenka and R.S. Agarwal’s Emami Group and S.K. Todi’s Shrachi Group. The trio, Todi’s son Rahul, R.S. Goenka’s son Manish and nephew Prashant, D.N. Agarwal and doctors Mani Chhetri and Pronab Dasgupta are among the 16 accused. There are 450 witnesses in the case.
The co-owners of AMRI, which has a new-look board of directors with only two faces from the old management, has been trying to get permission to reopen sections of the hospital.
The state government last month allowed a health department inspection of the main building and Annexe II which are not structurally connected to the Annexe I.