In what could set a unique precedent, four directors of an engineering firm in Ahmedabad were arrested on Monday for the poor quality of flyover that their company built in the city. The arrests were made possible after the Supreme Court rejected the accused’s anticipatory bail plea. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj flyover, built by the AEIPL in the city’s Hatkeshwar neighbourhood for a cost of Rs 44 crore and inaugurated in 2017, was to be demolished, according to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
“The AMC had filed a police report (FIR) against four of the company’s directors due to the bridge’s shoddy construction in the Hatkeshwar neighbourhood. They were detained today, days after the Supreme Court denied their request for anticipatory bail, according to Khokhra police station inspector A. Y. Patel.
The firm was penalised after expert panels found that the materials used to build the flyover were of poor quality and that its structural problems made it hazardous for commuters.
Rashik Patel, Ramesh Patel, Chirag Patel, and Kalpesh Patel are the AEIPL’s accused directors. According to the spokesperson, their company is involved in the construction of flyovers in various Gujarati cities.
“The FIR was filed based on reports provided by independent entities that evaluated the bridge’s structural stability. The samples were sent to four separate testing labs, and IIT Roorkee experts’ opinions were also sought after, according to the official.
The civic authority listed four members of project management consultancy SGS India Private Limited in their FIR in addition to the chairman and directors of AEIPL, which received the contract for building the bridge, he said.
According to the official, a departmental inquiry was launched against several AMC personnel, who were also suspended.
In April 2023, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed in the matter for charges covered by Indian Penal Code sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), and other pertinent laws.
The Gujarat high Court had remarked that the overpass was commissioned for use in 2017 and that within a span of four to five years, it needs to be closed to the public due to the damage. It said this while dismissing the anticipatory bail requests of four directors.
The court had stated in its judgement that it appeared that, prior to the filing of the FIR, a thorough audit of the structure had been carried out by a number of independent agencies, and they had filed their reports indicating that the quality of the concrete used for construction was questionable.
The directors subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, which on May 25 also denied their request for an anticipatory bail.
The firm was penalised months after a suspension bridge in Morbi, Gujarat, fell on October 30 of last year, killing 135 people.
Following the collapse of the suspension bridge, the Gujarat high court ordered the state’s government to inspect all of the state’s bridges. The government had informed the court that it had passed a government resolution (GR) governing the inspection and upkeep of major and minor bridges in municipal and municipal corporation regions.