Shawarma Death Case: Kerala High Court Rejects Bail for Restaurant Operator

The Kerala High Court has rejected the anticipatory bail plea of a restaurant operator accused of selling adulterated shawarma, allegedly leading to a customer’s death. Justice Mohammed Nias CP denied bail, considering the serious nature of the allegations and the potential threat to public health.

The court emphasized the need for a thorough investigation, stating that granting anticipatory bail could adversely affect the ongoing inquiry. Justice Nias expressed concern over the sale of adulterated food in restaurants, highlighting the health risks and the potential threat to life.

The case revolved around an anticipatory bail application filed by the operator of Le Hayath restaurant in Thrikkakkara. The restaurant was accused of selling adulterated shawarma, which reportedly caused the death of a customer who ordered through Zomato.

The prosecution charged the restaurant under Sections 284 (negligent conduct involving poisonous substances) and 308 (culpable homicide with intent) of the Indian Penal Code. It alleged that the restaurant knowingly prepared and sold the harmful shawarma, intending to cause death.

The accused denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the shawarma in question was prepared with care. The defense pointed out that there were no complaints about other orders served on the same day and highlighted the Zomato bills’ instructions to consume the food within two hours of delivery.

Despite these arguments, the High Court dismissed the anticipatory bail plea, considering the severity of the allegations. The court noted the violation of shawarma preparation guidelines, widespread food poisoning, and the use of substandard raw materials in unhygienic conditions.

The prosecution presented statements from affected individuals, including Swiggy customers, to support claims of food poisoning. The court was informed that the restaurant’s actions not only caused the death of the customer but also affected others in two additional cases.

This incident prompted the High Court to order food safety authorities to instruct eateries to display the exact time of food preparation, aiming to prevent further deaths caused by the consumption of spoiled shawarmas.

It’s worth mentioning that the High Court had initiated a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2022 on the issue of food safety after a 16-year-old girl died from consuming a contaminated shawarma.

In conclusion, the denial of anticipatory bail underscores the gravity of the allegations against the restaurant operator and the court’s commitment to public safety in food consumption. The case highlights the ongoing challenges in ensuring food safety and the legal consequences for those who compromise it.

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