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Mumbai hoarding collapse: Anticipatory bail plea of ex-director of firm rejected; cops cite her 'active role'

A Mumbai court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Janhavi Marathe, a former director of the advertising firm which had installed the hoarding that collapsed in Ghatkopar on May 13, resulting in 17 deaths.
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 14:04 IST
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 14:04 IST

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Mumbai: A Mumbai court on Friday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Janhavi Marathe, a former director of the advertising firm which had installed the hoarding that collapsed in Ghatkopar on May 13, resulting in 17 deaths.

While Marathe claimed she was 'merely a signing authority' in the hoarding contract, police told court she had 'direct and active' involvement in the construction of the collapsed structure.

Her plea was rejected by Additional Sessions Judge Rajesh Sasne. The detailed order, however, has not been made available as yet.

In her anticipatory bail plea, Marathe claimed she was director of Ego Media Private Limited, which erected the hoarding, since the firm's inception but had resigned in December 2023.

She claimed the ill-fated hoarding was installed in 2023 by Ego Media under the observation of current director Bhavesh Bhinde, the main accused who is currently in judicial custody.

In her plea, Marathe said she was 'merely a signing authority' for its contract and had been made a 'scapegoat' in the case, while Bhinde was the 'main culprit'.

Marathe, in her plea, claimed her name was not mentioned in the FIR and that she was not connected to the case in any way. She also claimed she had been cheated and raped by Bhinde and that she had already filed a case against him in this connection.

The plea said the hoarding was installed on land owned by the Central government and, therefore, permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was not required.

The police, represented by public prosecutor Iqbal Solkar, opposed Marathe's anticipatory bail. The police told court she was working as director of the firm till December 21, 2023 and was with the firm from the approval of the collapsed hoarding to its construction and until it was made operational.

In the first report, Ego Media Private Limited's owner Bhavesh Bhinde, all the directors, officers and employees of the company, the civil contractor and all other persons responsible for the incident have been mentioned, police said.

The police said Marathe has been found to be directly involved with the main accused during the period from the approval of the said hoarding till its construction.

She has received financial benefits from Ego Media even after her resignation from the company, and also has a Mercedes car whose instalment is still being paid by the firm, the investigation agency said.

Therefore, it is wrong to say her role was only limited to signing documents, the police said, adding she had 'direct and active involvement' as director of the firm.

Further, the police said the correspondence dated November 11, 2022 to Mumbai police commissionerate for erection of the collapsed hoarding has been signed by Marathe.

After hearing both sides, the court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Marathe.

As many as 17 persons died after a massive billboard crashed onto a petrol pump in suburban Ghatkopar on May 13 during a dust storm and unseasonal rain.

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Published 31 May 2024, 14:04 IST

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