A day after the Gujarat government was slammed by the high court in the Morbi bridge collapse case, the court on Wednesday further tightened the screws on the Morbi municipality, asking it to “not take the matter lightly”.
The Gujarat High Court directed the Morbi civic body to file its counter-affidavit in the matter by 4:30 pm on Wednesday or pay Rs 1 lakh cost. The 150-year-old bridge, whose renovation contract was awarded to Oreva Group, better known as manufacturers of Ajanta clocks, collapsed on October 30, killing over 130 people. The bridge collapsed just five days after it was reopened by Oreva Group chairman Jaysukh Patel.
On Wednesday, the Gujarat High Court asked the Morbi municipality to stop taking this matter casually. A bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri were reacting to the Morbi municipality counsel’s statement that the counter couldn’t be filed pursuant to the HC’s November 7 order as the deputy collector, who is looking after the civic body affairs, was on election duty and he couldn’t decide which advocate should represent it before the court.
The civic body sought time till November 24 to file its reply (the next date of hearing in the matter) but the court refused to grant time. The chief justice asked the Morbi civic body to to file the reply/counter affidavit by 4:30 pm or pay a Rs 1 lakh cost. The civic body informed the bench that the counter shall be filed by 4.30 pm today.
On Tuesday, the court had demanded to know from the state government that why were bids for the renovation of the 150-year-old bridge not issued. “The municipality, a government body, has defaulted, which ultimately killed 135 people,” the court said as a preliminary observation. It asked the government officials to provide details on whether any condition for certifying fitness of the bridge before its reopening was part of the agreement, and who was responsible for it.
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