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Guj court rejects bail pleas of seven accused in Morbi bridge collapse case

4 February 2023

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MORBI: A court here on Saturday rejected the bail applications of seven people arrested in connection with the collapse of a suspension bridge in Morbi town of Gujarat, in which 135 people were killed.

The court of principal sessions judge P C Joshi refused to grant bail to the seven accused, including two managers of Oreva Group, the company which was given the contract for operation and maintenance of the bridge.

The British-era bridge on Machchhu river collapsed on October 30, 2022, days after it was reopened following repairs.

Jaysukh Patel, the managing director of Oreva Group, had surrendered before a court here on February 1 before his arrest.

The Morbi police had last week filed a chargesheet in the case, in which 10 persons have been arrested so far, including Patel.

The other nine arrested persons include two managers of the firm, two ticket-booking clerks, three security guards and two sub-contractors who were engaged for the repair works by Oreva Group.

The bail pleas of these nine persons were rejected earlier by the Gujarat High Court and sessions court. Except the two sub-contractors, the other seven once again approached court for bail on Thursday.

Earlier, a special investigation team (SIT), which was formed by the state government to probe the collapse, had cited several lapses on the part of the firm.

Nearly 250 persons were on the hanging bridge, a popular tourist site, when it caved in.

According to the SIT, the lapses included lack of restriction on the number of persons accessing the bridge and no curb on sale of tickets, which led to unrestricted movement on the structure, and carrying out repairs without consulting experts.

The probe had revealed the new metal flooring done by the firm had increased the weight of the structure and it had failed to change the rusted cables on which the entire bridge was hanging.

Apart from this, the contractors hired by Patel's firm were not qualified to carry out such repair and renovation work, the SIT stated.

The probe report also revealed the Oreva Group did not hire any expert agency to assess the load-bearing capacity of the carriageway before throwing it open to the public after repair and renovation work.

The prosecution had earlier informed the lower court that the firm had sold 3,165 tickets on the day of the collapse alone and there was no coordination between ticket booking offices on both sides of the bridge.

All 10 accused, including Jaysukh Patel, have been charged under the Indian Penal Code sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (act which endangers human life), 337 (causing hurt to any person by doing any rash or negligent act) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by doing rash or negligent act).