Saki Naka landslide accused was aware of danger: HC

Upholding the order of a sessions court, the Bombay High Court on Friday held that Abdul Sattar Sheikh, 44, who was arrested for selling illegal tenements in a Saki Naka slum that was washed away in a landslide on July 26, 2005, will be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
In effect, the order means that Sheikh, who sold the tenements, was aware that the illegal constructions could crumble in a disastrous situation and caused the death of people living there. The landslide that followed the deluge of July 26, 2005, killed 72 people living in the slums here.
Sheikh was arrested on October 12, 2005, after a Saki Naka resident, Arun Yadav, lodged a complaint against him. He was booked under Sections 302 (murder) and 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and other Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (of Dangerous Persons, Slumlords, Bootleggers and Drug Offenders) Act, 1981, and the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act. He was released on bail a day later. Sheikh had first filed an application in the sessions court seeking to alter the charge against him from Section 304 to Section 304A (causing death by negligence).
In his application, Sheikh had contended that many strong, authorised constructions also collapsed at the time and a number of people are still missing. “The situation on that day was beyond the control of human beings and therefore nobody can be held responsible for losses on that day,” Sheikh stated. The sessions court, however, rejected his plea in September 2007 as 72 people were killed. In the HC, additional public prosecutor Anuradha Mane argued that there was no doubt that Sheikh knew the constructions were illegal and could be wiped out in an untoward incident. She further said that a charge can be altered by the court at any stage before announcing its verdict, so to discharge him at this stage was not necessary. Accepting her arguments, the HC turned down Sheikh’s revision application.
Mayura Janwalkar
Sunday, June 15, 2008 03:51 IST


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