Virar Fire Tragedy: What happened and who is responsible?

On 23rd April 2021 somewhere between 2.35- 3:13am fire broke out in the ICU unit of Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar in Mumbai. This fire was said to be caused due to a short-circuit in an Air-Conditioner in the ICU ward. During the event of this fire approximately 85- 90 people were present inside and this hospital is also a Covid-19 centre. This fire was reportedly put out by 5:30am. In response to the loss of life, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of the victims.

After the incident in the morning, Arnala Police registered an First Information Report (FIR) against the hospital staff, management and a doctor. After registering the FIR, the case was handed over to Crime Branch Unit II of Mira-Bhayander Vasai-Virar police jurisdiction. 

The charges applied under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 were as follows:

S.304: culpable homicide not amounting to murder

S.337: causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others

S.338: causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others

S.34:  Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention

In furtherance to this on 25th April 2021, Sunday at 1.52 am the Chief Executive Office, Dr Dilip Bastimal Shah and Chief Administrative Officer, Dr Shailesh Dharamdev Pathak of Vijay Vallabh Hospital were arrested. This arrest was made on the grounds that there was no Fire Audit done by the hospital and no NOC was obtained after March 2021 from the Fire Department. They were presented in Vasai Court and sent to Police Custody for one day. Further investigations are ongoing. 

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