Shital Fibres owner Shital Vij was granted bail on Monday, a week after the city police claimed that they had enough evidence to nail him under sections 304 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The police not only 'diluted' section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) into 304-A (causing death by negligence) but also scrapped other charges.
Vij, whose industrial unit's building collapsed in the Focal Point area on April 15, leading to the death of 23 people, was on Monday produced before the court of judicial magistrate first class (JIMC) Triptjot Kaur, who granted him bail.
Instead of objecting to the bail, the police withdrew harsher sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The special investigation team (SIT), headed by additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP), headquarters, Navjot Mahal, submitted the report to the magistrate. The report mentioned that the evidence collected by the police so far was not sufficient to indict Vij under these sections, so these had been deleted from the first information report.
Mahal said they did not have adequate evidence to establish Vij's willful intention and knowledge in the building collapse, thus section 304 had to be replaced with 304-A.
On the directions of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who had visited the site on April 17, the three-member SIT comprising Mahal, assistant commissioner of police, north, Balkar Singh, and the station house officer (SHO), division number 8 police station had been constituted to probe the case. The team had been asked to submit its report within 21 days. Jastinder Singh, who was the SHO when the factory disaster took place, was transferred a few days ago and replaced with Bimal Kant.
The SIT had recorded statements of deceased workers' relatives, the injured and officials of various departments concerned.
Vij, who is undergoing treatment at the civil hospital, was brought to the court on Monday. He had been admitted to the hospital immediately after he was remanded in judicial custody by the court during the previous hearing. He had complained of chest pain, high blood pressure, high sugar level and blood in stools. A panel of four doctors had been constituted to look into his health complaints. He is also undergoing treatment for post-disaster stress trauma under a panel of two psychiatrists at the hospital.
Flip-flop by cops
On April 16, shortly before Shital Vij's arrest, police commissioner Gaurav Yadav told the media that there was no need to arrest or book Vij before the conclusion of the inquiry ordered by the chief minister.
Later, he informed the media that Vij had been booked under sections 304 and 120-B of the IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and arrested. Even after his arrest, Vij was allegedly given VIP treatment and allowed to meet his close relatives.
Last week, SIT head Navjot Mahal claimed that the police had enough evidence against Vij to get his conviction under the charges, but on Monday, he said charges under sections 304 and 120-B and the Prevention of Corruption Act could not be proved.