Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari of the SC have said, "When nothing of any external natural force had been in operation in violent or sudden manner, the event of the fire in question could be referrable to anything but to an act of God in legal parlance.” The bench set aside the Allahabad HC order which had termed the fire in the warehouse of McDowell company in which large quantities of liquor were destroyed, as an act of God and exempted its liability.
It has become the norm in many cases, even among those who are in the know, to try and sidestep basic fire safety and exigency protocols in order to ‘save’ money. The natural next step is to somehow obtain fire safety licenses for such premises by dubious methods. In the process often even the NBC protocols are not followed.
This latest judgment of the SC adds on the burden on such people who can now not easily use the ‘Act of God’ argument to somehow escape coming under the lens if and when a fire accident occurs. It snatches away at least one major fig leaf that is used in court to escape liability or culpability when push comes to shove.