Police are invoking various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for incidents such as wall collapse even as the cases are almost similar in nature.
In two recent incidents - the City Light Hotel and Bakery collapse and the wall collapse at Moula Ali - the Mahankali police invoked Section 304-A (rash or negligent act resulting in death) in the first incident, while their counterparts at Malkajgiri of Cyberabad preferred Section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in the second.
While the City Light Hotel and Bakery was a decade-old building and was reportedly showing signs of possible collapse, with pieces of mortar falling off the ceiling now and then, the entire building did not collapse at once. First, the portion near the kitchen - where a steel shutter was affixed recently - caved in, but even then there was no evacuation.
Minutes later, the hotel’s entire slab came down, resulting in the death of as many as 18 persons including the hotel owner’s son and nephew. The injured workers later told police that two brick kilns were erected on the first floor and a load of mud bricks dumped there to build six more.
“Prima facie, it suggests that the hotel owner could be aware that affixing the steel shutter and building brick kilns on the first floor would further weaken the old structure,” Venkateswar Reddy, a lawyer, said.
“That suggests he knew the collapse of the building would result in loss of lives though he had no intention to cause anyone’s death,” he added.
These ingredients attract Section 304-II of the IPC, but the Mahankali police registered a case of rash or negligent act resulting in loss of lives.
Six members of two families living in two huts abutting an old rock compound wall died when it collapsed on them in the early hours of Tuesday.
Investigators here believe that the land owner must be aware that the old wall would crumble and cause harm to the two families residing there for the past few years. Apparently, neither the land owner nor the builders had any intention to cause deaths. Hence, Section 304-II was evoked, they maintain.