Prison terms range from six months to two years' RI; 64 persons lost their lives in the incident
The owner of Sri Padmapriya Kalyana Mahal at Srirangam, where a fire during a marriage ceremony left 64 persons dead and 33 injured on January 23, 2004, and four others were convicted on charges of causing death by negligence and grievous hurt and sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to two years on multiple counts by Principal District and Sessions Judge P. Velmurugan here on Wednesday.
S. Ramasamy, owner of the hall, was sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment (RI) under Sec.304 (A) (causing death by negligence), and one-year RI under Sec.338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.
He was also ordered to pay total compensation of Rs.35.30 lakh to the families of the dead and the injured victims and fine of Rs.1,400.
Three other accused were sentenced to rigorous prison terms ranging from six months to one year under the two sections. Another accused was let off with fine.
The sentences will run concurrently and the period of detention already undergone by the accused will be set off.
The fire at the hall on E.V. Srinivasachari Road was the worst ever tragedy of its kind in the temple town. The thatched roof that was engulfed by the fire was alleged to have been put up hastily and served as a makeshift venue for the marriage ceremony as the families had reportedly found the main hall downstairs too small to accommodate the anticipated turnout of guests on the fateful day.
With the burning thatched roof collapsing on guests, a narrow staircase was the only exit route and many died in a stampede. The incident threw up concerns over the safety arrangements in marriage halls.
The bridegroom, R. Gururajan, was killed in the fire while the bride H. Jayasri suffered grievous injuries.
The fire was alleged to have been caused by a short circuit and excessive heat generated by the videographer's equipment.
Apart from the hall owner, videographer P. Dharmaraj, his assistant R. Balaji, P. Selvam, who put up the thatched roof, S. Sadagopan, the hall manager, and K. Murugesan, electrician, were arrested and prosecuted. Selvam died during the course of the trial.
While all the five accused were convicted under Sec.304 (A) and Sec.338 of IPC, some of them were also convicted under Sec.108 (Explanation 1) read with Sec.109 of IPC and Under Rule 45 read with 139 of Indian Electricity Rules and under Sec.271 read with 441 (1) (4) of Schedule V of Corporation Act, and ordered to pay varying amounts of fine.
The Judge sentenced Dharmaraj to one-year RI each under two sections.
He was also ordered to pay a total fine of Rs.9,700. Sadagopan was sentenced to one year RI under Sec.304 (A) and six months under Sec.338 and told to pay fine of Rs.11,100.
Murugesan was sentenced to six months' RI under each of the sections and ordered to pay fine of Rs.11,000.
Balaji was ordered to pay a total fine of Rs.10,700.
Keywords: Srirangam marriage hall fire