Almost 16 years after the P.R. Parthasarthy Committee, which was set up following the Chhaya Bar tragedy, submitted its report to the state government, the state is yet to implement its recommendations.
Ninety-three people had died and one lost his eyesight after consuming liquor at Chhaya Bar in December 1991.
Now the Bombay High Court has sought explanation from the state for the inordinate delay following a public interest litigation filed by city-based NGO, Janhit Manch.
A division bench of Justice Ferdino Rebello and Justice R.V. More directed the state to file an affidavit within two weeks.
The NGO had moved high court in 2005 seeking action against the police officers then attached to Vikhroli police station contending their alertness that could have averted the Vikhroli-Satrashtra hooch tragedy of 2004 in which more than 100 persons had died.
The Committee, headed by the then Additional Director General of Police Parthasarthy, had inquired into Chhaya Bar tragedy and submitted its report to the government in 1994. The Committee recommended inclusion of methanol, which had caused the deaths and an amendment in legislation concerned for making unauthorised possession and storage spirit, methanol, chloral hydrate a cognisable offence and providing a deterrent punishment.
The Committee had suggested that all containers containing methanol should prominently display the crossed bone and skull design and written warning that it contains poison.
On Wednesday, additional government pleader G.W. Mattos said that methanol had been incorporated in the list of dangerous articles.
But the judges took a jibe at the government after it was pointed out that methanol was later deleted from the list following representation from industry representatives. “You have to protect the consumers and the public at large, not the industry,” Justice Rebello quipped.
The judge added, “The public would like to know what action has been taken (pursuant to recommendations of Parthasarthy Committee).”
The judges have also sought explanation for the protracted departmental inquiry of the then Deputy Commissioner of Police Dilip Bhujbal following Vikhroli tragedy. Another DCP, A.R. Dongre, also allegedly responsible for Vikhroli-Satrasta hooch tragedy was acquitted.