Tortuous trajectory of Uphaar case exposes the limitations of the legal framework to bring closure, fix accountability

News: There are so many fire incidences that occurred like in a coaching centre in Surat, children hospital etc. Delhi HC, recently, gave 7 years imprisonment to convicts involved in tampering with evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.

All this raises a question on the efficacy of fire safety norms that fail to prevent such tragic incidents.

What are the reasons behind the increase in fire incidents?

1) Disregard of minimum safety standards 2) Criminal negligence 3)  Lack of fire safety management infrastructure, especially in public spaces like cinema halls, 4. lack of trained staff in public premises.

Read moreCauses for fire incidents
What are the shortcomings in the governance process?

No uniform law: Absence of a comprehensive legal framework to fix claims and liabilities. Also, individual parameters adopted by states are often politically motivated.

Time-consuming victim compensation process: There is a delay in getting compensation to victims. 

No proper implementation of guidelines: Fire safety standards fall under the municipality. But there is no proper guidelines have been followed and Municipalities are often resourced deprived.

What needs to be done?

Parliament has earlier introduced two bills on the recommendations of the first Law Commission, but it has got lapsed. There is an urgent need to introduce a new law that makes the people accountable and award required punishment to people responsible for fire fatalities.

Read moreNeed for Fire Safety training and technologies

Source: This post is based on the article “Tortuous trajectory of Uphaar case exposes the limitations of the legal framework to bring closure, fix accountability” published in the Indian Express on 11th November 2021.

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