Rajkot game zone fire: Gujarat HC asks govt inaction over suspending senior officials

The court asked if the government planned to take action against senior officials, or if they were waiting for another such fire incident.
Debris being removed from the game zone site where a major fire on Saturday evening killed at least 27 people and injured three, in Rajkot.
Debris being removed from the game zone site where a major fire on Saturday evening killed at least 27 people and injured three, in Rajkot.Photo | PTI

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has questioned the state government on why the city municipal commissioner was not supended in connection with the Rajkot game zone fire incident, which claimed the lives of 27 people.

The hearing for the Rajkot TRP Game Zone fire incident was conducted before a division bench consisting of Justices Biren Vaishnav and Devan M. Desai on Thursday. The government faced tough questions during the session.

The High Court questioned why only junior employees had been suspended so far, while the Municipal Commissioner had not faced any action.

The court asked if the government planned to take action against senior officials, or if they were waiting for another such fire incident before holding the officials accountable.

Justice Vaishnav remarked, “What happened to the accountability of the municipal commissioners? What is the affidavit of the first commissioner when the game zone started? What is his explanation? No periodic checks were carried out by the fire department. Why has he not been suspended?”

He further stated, “The responsibility lies at the top. Why are the commissioners not suspended? It is now on record that you have been shifting blame from one stage to another. You keep playing these games.”

The court's ire was sparked when it discovered that despite the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) issuing a demolition notice to TRP Game Zone last June, no action was taken for an entire year. The facility, was operating without proper permissions during the tenure of then-commissioner Anand Patel.

During the hearing, RMC's lawyer G. H. Virk disclosed through an affidavit that the fire department had failed to conduct periodic inspections at the TRP Game Zone. Furthermore, the facility did not comply with the safety measures mandated by the Fire Safety Act. It was operating without a fire NOC or the necessary police permissions, both of which are required by law.

In the meantime, the Gujarat government suspended seven officials, among them two police inspectors and civic staff from the Rajkot Municipal Corporation, citing dereliction of duty following the fire incident at a gaming zone in Rajkot on May 25.

Earlier, a petition was submitted requesting the inclusion of 13 additional officers in connection with the Rajkot gaming zone fire incident.

Filed by a lawyer at the Rajkot District Court, the complaint urges the incorporation of these 13 officers into the FIR registered at the Taluka police station following the tragic fire incident.

On May 25, a devastating fire engulfed the gaming zone in Rajkot city, claiming the lives of 27 individuals, including children.

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