February 3, 2023

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Levana Suites fire: Allahabad HC grants bail to hotel owners, manager

Lucknow : The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has granted conditional bail to the two owners of Levana Suites and its manager in the September 5 fire incident which claimed four human lives.

A single judge bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh on Saturday allowed applicants — Rahul Agarwal, Rohit Agarwal (owners), and manager Sagar Srivastava — to be released on bail.

The court had completed hearing of the case on November 28 but reserved the order.

In its order, the court also directed the accused to furnish a personal bond and two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of court concerned — trial court in this case.

After the fire incident on September 5, an FIR was registered under IPC sections 304 and 308 at Hazratganj police station.

During the hearing of the case, the applicants’ lawyers Nadeem Murtaza, Abhinav Singh and others argued that the hotel had a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from the Fire Department.

The NOC was issued on October 25, 2017, they added.

The legal team of the defendants also pointed out to the court that the NOC was periodically renewed after inspection of the hotel by the Fire Department and the renewal certificate was issued on February 16, 2021, for a period of three years with a note to construct additional staircase in the hotel.

On the other hand, lawyers representing the state government opposed the bail, arguing that all NOCs and approvals were obtained without compliance of regulations in tacit understanding with the authorities concerned.

While the court has granted bail to the three men, it has put the following conditions — The applicants will file an undertaking to the effect that they will not seek any adjournment on the dates fixed for evidence when the witnesses are present in court.

In case of default of this condition, it will be open for the trial court to treat it as abuse of liberty of bail and pass orders in accordance with the law. The applicants should remain present before the trial court on each date fixed, either personally or through their counsel. In case of their absence, without sufficient cause, the trial court may proceed against them under Section 229-A of the Indian Penal Code.

In case, the applicants misuse the liberty of bail during trial and applicants fail to appear before the court on the date fixed, then the trial court can initiate proceedings against them, in accordance with the law.

The applicants shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on the dates fixed for opening of the case, framing of charge and recording of statements.

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