New Delhi, Aug. Aug 8 :
The Supreme Court Friday quashed the criminal complaints filed against J.J. Irani – then head of the Tata Iron and Steel Co. in Jamshedpur – and the factory manager P.N. Roy in a case of fire at a TISCO function that claimed many lives.
Setting aside the complaint, an apex court bench of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice S.A. Bobde said: “We have heard the matter and considered the issue at length and we find ourselves unable to uphold the reasoning of the High Court” of upholding the complaint against them.
Allowing the appeal by Irani and Roy, the court said: “In the result, appeals are allowed. The Judgment and Order of the High Court dated 15.6.2007 is set aside and Criminal complaints are dismissed.”
The court order came as it addressed the question whether the complaint made by the Inspector of Factories on May 7, 1990, against Irani and Roy was made within three months of the date on which the alleged offence came to the knowledge of the Inspector of Factories as required by Section 106 of the Factories Act, 1948.
The Jharkhand High Court by its order of June 15, 2007 had allowed the Criminal Revision filed by the State, and reversed the order dated June 29, 1990 of the Magistrate
Irani and others had contended that the complaint was barred by the limitation of three months provided by Section 106 of the Factories Act because the Inspector of Factories had knowledge of the commission of the offence as early as March 5, 1989 when he conducted the preliminary investigation into the accident between 5th and 6th March, 1989 along with the Chief Inspector of Factories and Dy. Chief Inspector of Factories, Jamshedpur.
The case relates to fire that occurred on March 3, 1989, at a function at Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited (TISCO) during the celebration of the 150th birthday of J.N. Tata, as Foundation Day. The fire engulfed the two temporary Pandals resulting in the death of around 20 guests on the spot.
A larger number were admitted with burn injuries at the Tata Hospital, some of whom later succumbed to their injuries. The injured and the dead were mainly employees of TISCO, its officers and their family members.