New Delhi: Observing the Morbi bridge collapse as ‘enormous tragedy’, the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday urged the Gujarat High Court to take suo motu congnizance of the matter and hear properly all aspects of the case. It shall also fix accountability and ensure adequate compensation to the victims, the SC said.
“It is an enormous tragedy and this will require a weekly monitoring to see award of contract, credential of party awarded the contract, attribution of responsibility for those guilty. The Gujarat High Court has taken charge (in initiating the suo motu case) else, we would have issued notice,” a bench of the apex court headed by Justice D Y Chadrachud said.
The Chief Justice of India’s (CJI) observation came while hearing a writ petition filed by family members of the victims in the case. Through the lawyer Vishal Tiwari, the family members have sought direction to appoint a judicial commission under the supervision of a retired SC judge to initiate probe on the bridge collapse which killed 140 people.
“The court is undoubtedly seized of ensuring a proper regulatory mechanism so that such instances don’t recur. Since the Gujarat High Court is seized of the matter, it is appropriate that further conduct remains with that division bench of the HC,” the Supreme Court said.
The apex court also noted that an award of compensation to the heirs of those who lost lives would have to be considered in this aspect by the Gujarat High Court.
As many as 140 have died, out of which 47 are children. More than 70 were injured.
The CJI clearly stipulated that there was a need for investigation probe into acts of criminal wrongdoing, the need to affix responsibility against officials of Nagar Palika and need to ensure that agency, which was entrusted to maintain the bridge are held accountable including making arrests.
Senior lawyer Gopal Sankarnarayanan, advocate appearing for one of the victims, told the court that his own disquiet was investigation and that arrests should be the first thing. “I do not know if the Gujarat HC has not done that yet, will it ever do so,” he told the apex court.
Gopal also questioned the kind of compensation given to the victims: Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister Relief Fund and 4 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. He said: “Rs 10-15 crore is given for sports but nothing here. These policies have to be looked into regarding compensation.”