J&K&L HC Seeks Govt.’s Response on Vaishno Devi Stampede Report Being Made Public

Priyanka Singh

Published on: September 23, 2022 at 20:15 IST

On Thursday, the Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh High Court heard a Public Interest Litigation seeking the inquiry report on the stampede at the hilltop temple late on 31st December, 2021.

Following this, the Court gave the J&K Administration and the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board a period of one month to file their responses with response to the PIL.

Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma heard the PIL where Senior Advocate A.V Gupta and Advocate H.A Siddiqui submitted the death of 12 devotees following the negligence by the Shrine Board officials and that the issue is of public importance, asserting the failure of performance of duties on the fateful evening and that no one was held accountable for reasons not testified.

Senior Counsel for the petitioner apprised the Court of the three-member panel headed by the then Principal Secretary (Home) constituted by the Lieutenant Governor of J&K.

The panel was formed to look into the accident and examine the causes behind it.

The panel was also assigned the task of suggesting appropriate SOPs and measures for the prevention of any recurrence of such incidents.

Even after a tenure of nine months, the counsel informed that the inquiry report hasn’t been brought to the attention of the world, wherein the RTI query has received no response and that the General Administration Department (GAD) did not receive any report regarding the same.

The petition further contended that on 31st December, 2021, the senior Shrine Board officers allegedly stopped the pilgrims from the “darshan” which led to a crowding before the holy structure.

It was reported by the pilgrims that they were stopped to facilitate the darshan for a VVIP, supposedly a senior bureaucrat of the UT, leading to the fateful stampede taking the lives of 12 innocent pilgrims.

The petitioner also submitted that even after several persuasions, the authorities and before the chairman of the board, nothing has been retrieved yet. Addl. Advocate General (AAG) Raman Sharma, for the UT Administration, sought time for pursuing the matter.

The bench directed the Registry to re-notify the PIL on 28th October.

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