In one of the rare incidents, the district Judge Vilas Bambarde convicted builder Sharad Bhai Mansingh Pawar and architect Anand Ashtaputre and sentenced them to three years in prison for the collapse of the Sairaj building in Wagle Estate in Thane, Maharashtra. The incident had taken place in 1998. He, however, acquitted about half a dozen accused, including at least three women, of the charges giving them the benefit of doubt.
The foundation of the building named Sairaj was built on a nullah. The underground drain could not bear the weight and the building caved in. Around 18 people were killed. Hundreds of affected people, who were forced to live in transit camps, were rehabilitated after several years.
The city police had booked all the accused under sections 304, 337,338, 384, 308, 326, 324, 323 and 34 of Indian Penal Code and had stated in the charge sheet that they had connived in the construction of the said building, which was constructed without due permission from the civic authorities. Also, the material used in the construction was substandard and there was undue haste in completing the building.
One of the accused, Ramaswamy Ramanna, had died during the pendency of the trial.