The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the DAV school management and a private banquet hall owner to pay Rs. 25 crore to the families of all those who died in the Dabwali fire 18 years ago.
On December 23, 1995, a private banquet hall in Dabwali, Haryana, was hosting the annual function of the local DAV school, when a fire broke out killing 446 people, including 230 children.
In 2009, the Punjab and Haryana high court ordered a compensation of Rs. 46 crore to the victims’ kin. The school and the banquet hall were told to pay 55%, while the remaining sum was to be taken care of by the state government.
Haryana government paid its share, but in 2010 the DAV managing committee appealed to SC seeking a declaration of its liability out of the 55% share.
On Wednesday, a bench headed by justice BS Chauhan rejected the committee’s appeal and said it wasn’t possible for SC to apportion the liability of compensation in the absence of material evidence. This should be decided by a competent civil court, the bench added.
According to the CBI investigation into the tragedy, a synthetic tent caught fire after a short-circuit. To make matters worse, only one of the two exits was open to the public — the school management had blocked the other for VIP movement only. Several people died in the stampede that ensued.