Two booking clerks of the Morbi suspension bridge have filed bail pleas with the Gujarat High Court, but the counsel representing the victims’ families raised objections, claiming that the accused individuals were involved in black marketing tickets and allowed the bridge to become overcrowded.
During the tragic incident on the evening of October 30, 2002, the bridge collapsed with over 300 people present. Among them, 135 lost their lives after drowning in the Machchhu River. The police arrested ten individuals, including the two booking clerks named Madeva Solanki and Mansuk Topiya. Jaysukh Patel, the CMD of Ajanta Manufacturing Pvt Ltd of Oreva Group, which was responsible for managing and recently renovating the bridge, was also among those arrested.
Following the high court’s grant of bail to three security guards, Solanki and Topiya approached the court claiming their innocence. Their counsel, B.B. Naik, argued that they did not receive any instructions from any authority regarding the maximum number of people allowed on the bridge at a given time.
During the hearing presided by Justice Samir Dave, advocate Rahul Sharma, representing the kin of the victims, alleged that the booking clerks engaged in ticket black marketing, resulting in overcrowding on the bridge and the subsequent loss of lives.
In response to this claim, Justice Samir Dave questioned the petitioners’ lawyer about whether the booking clerks charged visitors more than their regular salary from the company. The victims’ advocate informed the court that the permissible limit on the bridge was 100 persons, but nearly 400 people were present when the tragedy occurred.
The court has issued a notice to the state government and requested the petitioners to share copies of the bail pleas with the victims’ advocates, Sharma and Utkarsh Dave. The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for June 9.