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Karol Bagh fire: Hotel owners forged documents to get licences, says police charge sheet

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 15-05-2019 23:01 IST | Created: 15-05-2019 19:52 IST
Karol Bagh fire: Hotel owners forged documents to get licences, says police charge sheet

Goel brothers, who owned Arpit Palace where a fire killed 17 people in February, forged documents to get licences to run the hotel and their "only and prior" concern was to "make a profit" and "earn money", Delhi Police has told a court here. In the 50-page charge sheet, the police have booked Rakesh Goel, his brother Sharad Indu Goel, hotel's general manager Rajender Kumar and manager Vikas Kumar for offences of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

Police has claimed that the Goel brother forged documents for obtaining Health Trade Licence (HTL) from the Public Health Department of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Fire Safety Certificate (NOC) from Delhi Fire Department, licence to run the guest house from Delhi Police Licensing Unit, Certificate for Pest Control, licence for running restaurant and other department licences. The charge sheet filed recently said: "The owners of the Hotel Arpit Palace, had furnished false/ manipulated and submitted forged documents with different authorities to procure/get issued different licences to run the guest house and renewals thereafter. Accused gave a false declaration to these licensing authorities mentioning that the height of Hotel Arpit Palace is within the specified limits i.e. below 15 meters and accordingly, the licenses were procured.

"In furtherance of procurement of these licences, after the expiry of the validity period of these licences, forged Certificates & Affidavits were also submitted. It is obvious during the investigation that the license was obtained disclosing false and incorrect facts. Role of various officials of different government departments is being investigated." It further claimed that the brothers used fake structural stability certificates by a fake architect company "BL Chabbra & Associate" to obtain licences.

"The building... was a unauthorisedly constructed building without having any approved Building Plan/ Completion Certificate from Municipal Corporation of Delhi," it said, adding that none of the directives issued by the Delhi Fire Service has been complied with by the owners the hotel. "During the investigation, some of the fire safety arrangements were found missing or non-operational. None of the staff so employed at the hotel was trained in fire-fighting or aware of the basic drill in Fire Safety and is working in shifts structure. The information regarding deviation in construction/renovation etc. was never been provided to Delhi Fire Service," it said.

It said the owners did not comply with any of the norms enacted in Delhi Fire Service Act, and Delhi Fire Service Rules, but they solely with "common intent acted hand-in-glove with each other to make profit out of their business, without caring about the lives and property of the guests staying in their guest house". The charge sheet claimed that their "only and prior" concern was to "make a profit" and "earn money" out of the guests.

"During investigation, it revealed that none of the fire alarm/PA System, which are required to alert the guests about the fire or any other natural/ unnatural calamity, did work during the carnage. Also, the staff/employees of Hotel Arpit Palace was not a trained staff, who could help/ assist the guests during this fire. This is a gross violation of the fire safety directives, so issued by the Delhi Fire Service, at the time of issuance/renewal of FSC, each & every time. "Then the major inadequacy in the hotel was the Emergency Exit, which was locked at the time of the incident and if the same was opened, several lives could have been saved," it said.

The police has charged the accused for offences punishable under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged documents as genuine), 201 (disappearance of evidences of offense), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 34 (act done by several people with a common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. A massive fire engulfed Arpit Palace Hotel in central Delhi's Karol Bagh area in February, killing 17 people, including two people who jumped off the building in a desperate bid to save themselves.

The hotel's general manager, Rajender, and manager, Vikas, were arrested for culpable homicide, police said. The hotel owner, Shardendu Goel, has been absconding since the incident, they said.


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