Form special court for speedy trial of Puttingal temple fireworks tragedy: Kerala HC

The case pertains to the 2016 tragedy that claimed the lives of 111 people during a fireworks mishap at the Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam in 2016.
Puttingal temple firework tragedy
Puttingal temple firework tragedy
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The Kerala High Court has said it would be "desirable" to constitute a special court for speedy trial and disposal of cases in connection with the Puttingal Devi temple fireworks tragedy which claimed lives of 111 people and injured more than 350, some of whom suffered severe burns. The tragedy at the 100-year-old temple had occurred during an unauthorised display of fireworks on April 10, 2016 after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehouse containing crackers.

The High Court noted that on September 27 this year, Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Thiruvananthapuram filed a report stating that in view of the volume, nature and gravity of the crime and for a speedy trial it would be desirable to constitute a special court to exclusively hear the matter on a day to day basis. Subsequently, the High Court's Committee for Establishment of Courts or Tribunals favoured the suggestion to set up a separate special court for the trial of 'Puttingal Devi Temple Fireworks mishap cases' at Kollam, it noted.

However, the full court of the High Court deferred decision on the request of several pending petitions in relation to the tragedy. Taking note of these aspects, the High Court said," ..considering the large number of cases, number of accused and the witnesses to be examined, it would be desirable to constitute a special court at Kollam for the speedy trial and disposal of the cases." It also directed its Registry to place the subject matter -- Establishment of Courts or Tribunals -- before the Full Bench for appropriate decision.

The Puttingal temple fireworks tragedy is one of the largest fire mishaps in the state. Notably, the then Kollam District Collector had denied permission for the fireworks, which is an annual "competitive fireworks” event, yet it carried on. It was by around 3 am on April 10, that a spark from one of the fireworks fell on a concrete shed where big explosive crackers were stored, resulting in the huge explosion amid hundreds of people. It was last year, in October that the Crime Branch probing the case filed the final chargesheet in the case. According to reports, the chargesheet has named 59 persons, including 15 officials of the temple managing committee.

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