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Updated: June 14, 2012 10:54 IST

5 sentenced in marriage hall fire tragedy case

S. Ganesan
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D. Ashokan, Public Prosecutor, speaks to the media in Tiruchi on Wednesday. Photo: M. Srinath
D. Ashokan, Public Prosecutor, speaks to the media in Tiruchi on Wednesday. Photo: M. Srinath

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.

The Punishment does not seem to be rigorous.

from:  Rama
Posted on: Jun 15, 2012 at 05:15 IST

It happened in 2004 and sentencing came in 2012 (just 8 years), why not this happen for political cases (even Rajiv Gandhi's assasination). These people would have done the makeshift arrangement to help cater the needs of the marriage party, and why not this taken as God's/Nature's act? I have read another article stating Chennai municipality tried to defend themselves for a tree collapsed/killed 2 people and finally verdict came out in favor of the deceased. Atleast there is clear case of neglience, why not they open the case and put them in Jail for negligence of tree fallen on 2 innocent people. GOD alone can answer!!!

from:  keshav
Posted on: Jun 14, 2012 at 22:26 IST

what about person who authorised the construction of marriage hall with faulty plan. Actually, municipality planning engg, councillor,chairman and commissioners are responsible for giving permission to such construction. they have to be arrested and convicted as number one criminals in this case.

from:  kumar
Posted on: Jun 14, 2012 at 15:18 IST

Even after 8 years, the government has not learnt its lesson. There is no regulatory body/authority to inspect public places for safety measures. There was an incident of a school in the past, which got engulfed in fire and children trapped - Incidents keep happening and no one is worried. The government fails to implement rigid process to govern licence issue/renewal of such public utility places. Safety is seen as last things not only by the government but also by public. Total Compensation of Rs.35.30 Lakhs for 64 persons dead and 33 injured is a peanut - and NOT the Life's worth.

from:  Bala Viswanathan
Posted on: Jun 14, 2012 at 14:51 IST

Justice after 8 years and one has died in between. Good Judiciary...

from:  RAMAGOPAL T V
Posted on: Jun 14, 2012 at 08:19 IST
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