The Morbi bridge collapse incident, which claimed the lives of over 140 people, was labeled an “enormous tragedy” by the Supreme Court on Monday. The Supreme Court also directed the Gujarat High Court to hold regular hearings in the case. The high court is already hearing a suo moto case on the same issue.
“It is an enormous tragedy, and this will require weekly monitoring to see the award of the contract, credential of the party awarded the contract, and the attribution of responsibility for those guilty,” observed a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli.
The Supreme Court noted that a division bench led by the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court had already taken a suo moto note of the incident and issued three orders, but it will not hear the petitions at this time.
It asked petitioners to file their cases with the Supreme Court, requesting an independent investigation and the award of dignified compensation to those who lost family members in the Morbi bridge collapse incident.
The development came while the apex court was hearing a plea filed by someone who lost his two relatives in the incident.
The petitioner asked for a CBI investigation, compensation for those who lost family members, accountability for Nagar Palika officials, and accountability for the agency entrusted with maintaining the bridge.
It was also hearing a PIL seeking direction to appoint a judicial commission to investigate the incident under the supervision of a retired top court judge.
During the hearing, the bench said the Gujarat High Court had already taken suo moto cognizance of the Morbi bridge collapse on October 30, hence it wouldn’t hear the case. It said the high court would “undoubtedly be seized with ensuring a regulatory mechanism so that such incidents do not recur.”
The bench stated in its order, “We are of the view that the high court would also bring to bear its time and attention on other aspects of the matter, which have been highlighted above, while recording the submissions of the learned counsel of the petitioner.”
Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, submitted that the high court had already taken note of the issue and that the petitioner could raise it there.
On October 30, a British-era bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi collapsed, killing over 140 people, including 47 children. The collapse of the suspension bridge over the Morbi Macchu river injured over 100 people.
As per reports, the bridge was closed for about 8 months for maintenance, and the repair work was being completed by a private agency.
The bridge collapse tragedy was the subject of an initial FIR that the Gujarat Police had filed under IPC sections 304 and 308 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). A five-member committee has already been established by the Gujarati government to investigate the bridge collapse incident.
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