The Calcutta High Court Friday granted bail to AMRI Hospital director R.S. Agarwal, but rejected the pleas of four other directors in the Dec 9, 2011 fire tragedy at the high-cost healthcare centre here that killed 94 people.
A state counsel later said the West Bengal government would move the Supreme Court in an appeal against the bail order.
Agarwal is a director of the Rs.3,700 crore Emami Group, which co-founded the hospital along with the Shrachi Group and the West Bengal government in 1996.
“As per the investigation reports, R.S. Agarwal did not take any executive decision neither he took part in any of the administrative meetings in the past one year. This shows he was not involved in the daily affairs of the hospital. The court, therefore, grants him bail and at the same time rejects the plea of the other four petitioners,” said a bench of Justices A.K. Roy and T.K. Gupta.
The court, on the basis of medical reports, categorically stated that Agarwal who has been hospitalised since his arrest Dec 9, was not being enlarged on bail on health grounds.
Observing that there were severe fire safety deficiencies in the hospital, the court asked why neither the statutory authorities nor the petitioners (directors) took any steps to rectify them.
It further opined that there was sufficient proof that the directors were involved in the daily affairs of the hospital.
Eight directors including Shrachi Group chairman S.K. Todi, his counterpart in Emami Group R.S. Goenka and four other employees continue to be behind bars.
Before Agarwal, veteran doctor and managing director of the hospital, Mani Chhetri, arrested Jan 27, was released on conditional bail Feb 2 on health grounds.
Three other directors who so far have been evading arrest Feb 16 approached the high court seeking anticipatory bail, the hearing of which is slated Feb 29.
State counsel Kalyan Banerjee, also a Trinamool Congress lawmaker, told the media that the government was unhappy with the decision and will appeal against it in the Supreme Court.
The pre-dawn blaze at 3.30 a.m in the hospital located in South Kolkata’s Dhakuria choked to death mostly critically ill patients — many of them in their sleep — and two nurses, while most doctors and other staffers were able to get away.