The Gujarat government stated on Wednesday that the decision to grant bail to Jaysukh Patel, CMD of Oreva Group, in the Morbi Bridge collapse case of October 2022 lies in the hands of the Gujarat High Court. Justice Divyesh Joshi has reserved his order after hearing submissions from the petitioner, victims’ relatives, and the government.
The tragic incident, which occurred on October 30, 2022, involved the collapse of a suspension bridge over the Machchhu River in Morbi town, resulting in the deaths of 135 people, including women and children, and injuries to 56 others.
Patel, who is among the ten accused in the criminal case related to the tragedy, was responsible for maintaining and operating the British-era bridge. Six of the accused have been released on bail, while the rest, including Patel, remain in judicial custody.
Additional Advocate General Mitesh Amin informed the court that the investigation into the incident was completed on September 18. He emphasised that a bail application cannot be decided based on a judgement, and it is always at the discretion of the court hearing the plea.
The accused faces charges under Indian Penal Code sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336 (act endangering human life), and 338 (causing grievous hurt by doing rash or negligent acts). Amin highlighted that the court may consider various factors in deciding the bail plea, including the duration of the petitioner’s incarceration, the completion of the investigation, the number of witnesses, the accused being a businessman, and the absence of a possibility of absconding.
Victims have filed applications in the Sessions Court seeking the addition of certain offences. As charges are yet to be framed, either side could apply for adding or removing any offence.
Patel’s lawyer, Nirupam Nanavaty, argued that a large crowd rushing onto the bridge also contributed to the collapse, and Oreva Group had no prior knowledge of such a gathering. Having spent over ten months in custody, Nanavaty argued that the petitioner was not required to be incarcerated further, and the trial would take its time.
In opposition to bail for Patel, the victims’ lawyer, Rahul Sharma, cited the strong possibility of witness tampering and the seriousness of the accused’s offence.