Court declines bail plea of fire ravaged supermarket owners


Chennai : The Madras High court Friday denied anticipatory bails to S. Rajarathinam and S. Yogarathinam – the two businessmen who jointly own the fire ravaged supermarket Saravana Stores here.

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“Justice R. Raghupathy rejected the bail petitions observing the building was in total violation of rules prescribed by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority and the absence of fire-safety measures were non-existent in the building consumed by fire resulting in the deaths of two people,” S. Dorairaj, one of the prosecuting counsels told reporters.

A one-man judicial commission headed by retired judge Ramamurthy has been appointed by the Madras High Court to find out the danger to the common people due to the presence of high rise structures in the business district.

Two senior employees of the supermarket have been arrested on charges of negligence and culpable homicide.

Meanwhile, over 250 owners of small businesses in the southern business district of T. Nagar demonstrated against the police and fire services departments for disallowing them from pursuing their trade since the vicinity of the supermarket had become “unstable after the fire”.

“Everyone knows that only Saravana Stores was engulfed by fire and not the neighbouring buildings. If there is a safety hazard, our structures ought to have been inspected first and cleared for commerce. Now, due to the mistakes of the supermarket we are being forced to starve,” said V.K. Kumar, a shopkeeper selling fancy goods adjacent to the fire-ravaged building.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislator V.P. Kalairajan met the small traders and collected petitions against the government, adding to the ticklish situation.

“I will be forwarding the petitions of the wronged small merchants here to the authorities for immediate action,” Kalairajan, who represents the constituency, told reporters.

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had faulted the owners of the establishment saying improper construction and absence of safety measures impeded the putting out of the fire Monday.

The police sources refused to comment on speculations in the local media indicating the imminent arrests of the owners of Saravana Stores following the rejection of their advance bail applications.

Three storeys of Saravana Stores went up in flames Monday reportedly due to a short circuit. Over 150 fire services personnel battled five hours to douse the flames.