Hyderabad: Deaths caused by civic bodies’ negligence may have seen cases registered against the government or private agencies, but have not resulted in prosecution, history shows.
Be it the Bholakpur water contamination tragedy, the Punjagutta flyover collapse in which 10 died, people drowning in open manholes or storm-water drains and falling in open trenches, no one has gone to jail.
Though L&T was booked after woman was hit on the head by falling concrete and died at Ameerpet Metro-station, will they get away with just paying compensation?
Tuesday’s heavy rain brings back the 2014 memory of Satyavani, a pregnant woman who crossed a Chilkalguda road but fell into an open stormwater drain and died. Her body was washed away. A case was booked against the GHMC for negligence, but in the end all that came out of it was a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh. The negligence case died its own death.
Pradeep Menon witnessed the Punjagutta flyover collapse. “My office car was a few metres away when I saw blocks of concrete fall at Nagar-juna Circle,” he recalled. “Many were trapped and died. I was fortunate to escape.”
Police had booked a criminal case against Gammon India Ltd, but it ended with a few token arrests.
The procedure followed is an inquiry by the department concerned and a parallel police investigation.
The procedure followed is an inquiry by the department concerned and a parallel police investigation. In many cases, a prosecution request by the police after the chargesheet is brushed off on the pretext of departmental action like suspension or denial of promotion and pension. Bholkpur is an example.
A decade ago residents lodged a complaint against five officials of the Hyderabad Metropolitical Water Supply and Sewerage Board following the death of 14 people including children due to poisonous tap water. The five accused including the then general manager, released on bail in 2010, are yet to be prosecuted as approval sought by the central crime station (CCS) is pending with the principal secretary (Home)’s office.
“The victim’s family or any citizen can move court under section 200 of CrPC,” criminal advocate C. Mallesh Rao told DC. “The court can direct police to investigate the complaint which is criminal in nature. With this, the accused cannot escape prosecution. Civic negligence is a criminal breach of trust and falls under the Rash and Negligence Act. Every taxpayer has the right to demand commutable roads, footpaths and good infrastructure.”
A former GHMC commissioner who demanded anonymity said: “The vigilance department probed into scams in the municipal body, and at times into negligence. In all cases, the report was submitted to the commissioner who can initiate action. However, in a majority of cases, the report is tweaked and in a few the contractors or outsourcing employee is held responsible.”
In certain cases even the contractor got away. In 2015, a 70-year-old died after falling into an open trench at Ameerpet. Police booked a case but did not name the contractor....