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SC Grants Liberty to Petitioners to Approach Gujarat High Court Seeking Independent Investigation [Morbi Bridge Collapse]

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Sarthak Umang

Published on: 21 November 2022 at 18:00 IST

On October 30, Gujarat High Court taken suo moto cognizance on Morbi Bridge collapse , Supreme Court rejected to entertain two petitions which sought for independent probe into the tragedy.

The Supreme Court granted liberty to the petitioners to seek independent probe to raise issues before Gujarat High Court. The alternative remedy available to petitioners are either file an independent writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution or by suo moto case.

A PIL filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari and Chavada Dilipbhai was considered by the bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli.

The bench also had recorded some  of the issues highlighted by Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who appeared for Chavada Dilipbhai, such as :

  • the need for an independent investigation on acts/omissions which would amount to criminal wrong doing;
  • the need to fix responsibility against officials of the Nagar Palika;
  • the need to ensure that the agency which was entrusted with the task of maintaining the bridge and its management are held accountable including but not confined to making arrests in the course of investigation;
  • the award of reasonable compensation to the heirs of those who have lost lives in the tragedy.

The apex court suggested the Gujarat HC to apply its mind regarding above aspects raised by the petitioners.

The Supreme Court also mentioned in its order that, “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.”

The bench noted that the Gujarat High Court is keeping a close eye on various aspects of the case on a weekly basis, and that those aspects would require regular responses from Nagar Palika officials and the state.

It was asserted that the High Court “would definitely be capable of making sure a regulating framework is in place so that such instances do not recur.”

“Since the Division Bench led by the CJI has already entertained suo motu proceedings, we are of the view of that the future conduct of the proceedings remains with that Division Bench of the High Court”, the bench noted.

The Court advised the High Court to take this matter on a periodic basis.