Chandigarh PG fire: Absconding house owner files anticipatory bail plea

Jagpreet Singh Sandhu
Chandigarh PG fire, PG fire Chandigarh, Chandigarh fire, fire at Chandigarh PG, fire at PG in Chandigarh, Chandigarh news, city news, Indian Express

Officials have found that the PG facility where the fire broke out had violated several norms. (Express photo)

THREE DAYS after three girl students were burnt alive in a fire at an illegal paying guest (PG) accommodation in Chandigarh’s Sector 32, the owner of the house, Gaurav Aneja, moved an anticipatory bail plea in the district court on Wednesday, stating that he has no connection with the offence, and that as per the lease/rent agreement, the two other accused — Nitesh Bansal and Nitish Popli — should be held responsible.

Aneja, who is absconding, filed the anticipatory bail plea in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Rajesh Sharma. The court has issued notice to Chandigarh Police to file a reply by February 29.

As per the rent deed attached with the bail plea in court, Aneja had given the house on rent for three years, with an increase of 5 per cent every year, to the other two accused. The monthly rent for the first year was Rs 90,000 per month for September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019. From September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020, the rent which was paid to Aneja was Rs 94,500 per month, and then from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021, it was Rs 99,225. The 250 square yards double-storey house (ground and first floor) with a separate room on the second floor has been in use as PG accommodation since December 2018.

Aneja, Popli and Bansal have been booked under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 34 (common intention) of the IPC at PS 34, Chandigarh.

The accused Popli is also absconding at present.

In the anticipatory bail plea, Aneja has submitted that he had let out the premises to Nitesh Bansal and Nitish Popli of Sirsa, Haryana, after executing a lease agreement on August 30, 2018, and thus Bansal and Popli have been in physical possession of the premises.

Aneja’s counsels advocate Amarjit Singh Gujral and Amarjeet Singh have argued that as per a clause of the lease agreement, the house had been let out for exclusive use as per building bye-laws of the Chandigarh Administration, and in case the lessee does anything against the same, the lessee will be solely responsible.

“The fire...is due to negligence on the part of Nitesh Bansal and Nitish Popli whereas the petitioner has no concern with the same,” read the petition of accused.

It has also been submitted by Aneja that as stated in the lease agreement on August 30, 2018, the lessee shall be responsible for all consequences and damages if any for misuse of the premises, and that the lessee had misused the premises by illegally constructing a wooden wall therein without taking permission from the petitioner.

The fire broke out due to negligence of lessee, Bansal and Popli, and even otherwise, there was no fire extinguisher installed in the premises, the petition further said.

Aneja also pleaded that he is ready to join the investigation as and when required. He has also moved an application to the SSP Chandigarh Police for re-investigation of the case, and also to discharge him from the charges.