New Delhi: On Monday, 21st of November, 2022, the Supreme court declined to hear two petitions that sought independent investigations into the bridge collapse in Morbi, Gujarat, which cost more than 140 lives. The Supreme court further cited that the petitioners of Morbi bridge collapse can approach the Gujarat high court instead.
What Led To This Announcement?
The Supreme court announced that the Gujarat high court has already taken suo motu cognizance of the case. A bench consisting of CJI Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli further requested that the high court keep a close eye on the investigation and any other related matters.
The bench stated that it would not hear the appeals at this time since a division bench led by the chief justice of the Gujarat high court had already taken suo motu notice of the occurrence and issued many instructions.
Response To A PIL
The Supreme Court made this announcement when advocate Vishal Tiwari filed a PIL, and Chavada Dilipbhai filed a petition. Chavada Dilipbhai lost his sister-in-law and brother in the incident.
The court further gave permission to all the petitioners of Morbi bridge collapse to approach the high court with their requests for an independent investigation. The court also announced the granting of respectable reimbursement to those who lost their loved ones.
The Supreme Court further stated two ways in which the petitioners could approach the Gujarat high court. One, by interfering in the suo motu case, or second, by submitting a separate writ petition in accordance with Article 226 of the constitution.
Points Raised By Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan
The bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli recorded some of the points raised by Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who came for Chavada Dilipbhai that, include:
- The requirement for an impartial investigation of any actions or inactions that might constitute criminal wrongdoing.
- The requirement to hold Nagar Palika authorities accountable.
- The requirement to hold accountable the organization tasked with maintaining the bridge and its administration, including but not limited to making arrests during an inquiry.
- The payment of fair compensation to the surviving family members of those killed in the tragedy.
The Supreme Court observed in its decision on the appeals that the High Court should consider the aforementioned issues submitted by the petitioners. The bench headed by the CJI remarked that the High Court is keeping an eye on different parts of the case virtually weekly.
It also stated that several of those features will call for regular replies from the State and the Nagar Palika personnel. It further said that the High Court will surely be tasked with establishing a regulatory framework to prevent similar situations from happening again.
What Happened In The Courtroom?
When the case was heard, the bench inquired as to whether the Gujarat High Court was hearing a case of a similar nature. On this, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan said that the High Court has taken a suo motu case on the matter, but the scope of the petitions before the Supreme Court is distinct.
According to Sankaranarayanan, the petitioner (Chavada Dilipbhai) is asking for a CBI probe into the incident because his brother and sister-in-law were killed in it and left behind a 9-year-old kid. He further stated that the High Court was not debating the CBI investigation matter.
The senior attorney claimed that Nagar Palika should have been held accountable right away. But, the police rather hurriedly filed an FIR against those in charge of bridge upkeep.
He further added that the company’s higher executives are still missing, and the State Police appears uninterested in apprehending them. Moreover, only Agenta-Oreva low-level officials have been detained yet.
In speaking on behalf of the State of Gujarat, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta claimed that the High Court had already noted the matter and that the petitioner might address the concerns there. And it was this that the Supreme court said that the petitioners of Morbi bridge collapse can visit Gujarat high court with their petitions.