Kolkata, Jan 24 (IANS) After FICCI, a senior official of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has now come out in support of directors of the AMRI hospital, where a fire tragedy killed 94 people, contending they should be given bail as they held non- executive posts. However, a public prosecutor has contested the argument.
"According to Indian law, unless you are proved guilty you are presumed to be innocent. Therefore in law unless guilt is proved they are innocent. You can keep a man behind bars if you think he/she is going to tamper with evidence or is going to run away. I don't think that such a situation can arise in this case," said Dipankar Chatterjee, member, national council of CII, on the sidelines of a programme here Tuesday.
Along with the six directors of AMRI, two employees of the hospital are also behind bars while another director, also an accused, is under arrest and admitted to a state-run hospital.
All of them were arrested in connection with the Dec 9, 2011, fire in the medical centre that claimed 94 lives.
"Under company law if they are non-executive directors how can they be held responsible for the day-to-day activities of the company? This is against the company law."
"The directors should be given bail, they should be brought to trial and if they are guilty, punish them. Let the court find them guilty and then punish them. But till the men are not guilty, you cannot keep them behind bars," Chatterjee said.
Countering Chatterjee, public prosecutor in the case Baishwanor Chatterjee told IANS: "Granting of bail is a discretion of the court, and it is guided by the relevant provisions of law, and the facts and circumstances of the case. Nobody can demand bail as a matter of right in a non-bailable case."
Earlier, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) had issued a public statement demanding that "those who are not found guilty and are not responsible for day-to-day operations" in the hospital be released immediately.
However, the state government has maintained that law will take its course in the case.
On Monday, at a panel discussion in the Calcutta Club, the talks revolved around the issue that if the 'non-executive' directors are held responsible for the hospital tragedy then why aren't ministers and the government authorities held responsible when a train accident or crib deaths take place in the country and in the state.
"The regret of people is over the unfairness of the system. Suppose if a train accident takes place or a fire tragedy takes place, do we try the government authorities who are responsible for their negligence? There should be accountability of the government officials also. Then there will be checks and balances," said Ajay Kumar, a former bureaucrat and MP from Jharkhand.
Asked whether the directors should be released on bail as they have been languishing in jail for more than a month, Kumar said: "We should go by the evidence, but if we don't have any proof against them then they should be released. AMRI was a shocking incident. But at the same time, the Gyaneshwari train accident was also tragic as was the recent killings of policemen in Jharkhand. So are you going to prosecute those who are responsible for intelligence failure?"
Eminent cardiologist Kunal Sarkar advocated a social audit to keep a constant check and balance on society.
"The state of society cannot be examined unless and until we have a social audit. As an Indian I feel betrayed because there is no accountability of the 30-40 percent tax that the government is mopping up today," said Sarkar.