It’s been over four months since Jaysukh Patel, the managing director of Ajanta Manufacturing Private Limited (AMPL) of Oreva Group, listed as an absconding accused in the chargesheet in the Morbi suspension bridge collapse, surrendered before a magistrate court.
The Morbi bridge collapse in October, one of the greatest tragedies in India for years, killed 135 people, most of them women, children and the elderly, and left 56 people injured.
A day after the accident, the police arrested the staff of Oreva, contracted to manage the bridge. As grieving families awaited justice and investigations were underway, Patel was named among the 10 accused in the case and faced charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The magisterial court issued an arrest warrant against him on January 13.
Now, the Gujarat High Court has postponed the hearing to August 10 in his bail plea.
The state government had also issued an order to supersede the Morbi municipality after the government served a show-cause notice on the municipality on January 18, observing that its general board failed to discharge duties.
In its show-cause notice, the government, using strong words, stated that the 52-member general board of Morbi municipality was incompetent in discharging its primary duties and asked the civic body why it should not be suspended.
Headed by then Chief Justice Aravind Kumar, a Gujarat High Court observed that there was a default on the party of the municipality. Media houses have highlighted that the bench asked the state government why it was not superseding the municipality by using Section 263 of the Gujarat Municipalities Act, 1963.
Following a municipality’s general board meeting on January 23, the state government’s special investigation team (SIT) seized documents related to the bridge.
The state government also sent a copy of the Special Investigation Team’s primary report to the municipality on February 3, asking it to respond without delay.
The municipality, in a delayed response, claimed it had never approved handing over the bridge to the Oreva group.
A total of 42 of 52 councillors of the Morbi municipality claimed they were not aware of the agreement under which the bridge had been handed over to the Oreva Group.