Morbi municipal body acting smart, says Gujarat HC

NationalMorbi municipal body acting smart, says Gujarat HC

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The court made the above observation during the hearing of a PIL on the Morbi bridge collapse which claimed more than 135 lives.

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has taken Morbi municipal body to task as none of its officials represented the civic authority in the court despite its notice. The court also raised a question on the contract given for the maintenance of the 150-year-old old bridge that caved on October 30 killing more than 150 people and injuring more than 100.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Arvind Kumar and Justice J Shastri said, “Despite being served a notice, Morbi Nagar Palika is not represented before the court; they are acting smart.”

The court said, “Why did the state not use its power under the section 263 of the Gujarat Municipalities Act as prima facie the municipality has defaulted, which led to an unfortunate incident that resulted in the deaths of 135 innocent persons.”

The court is mulling over various aspects like, “under the MoU of 2008 or the agreement of 2022 whether there was any condition put for certifying of the fitness of the bridge and who was the responsible person to certify the bridge. Whether the largesse of the state was given to Ajanta Company without any tender being floated? On what basis, the bridge was permitted to be operated by the Ajanta after June 2017, even though the MoU expired and no further agreement was signed after 2017? Whether there was compliance with section 65 of the Gujarat Municipal Act?”

The court will hear the case on Wednesday and it is expected that the Morbi civic body would give a detailed explanation. Besides, the court wanted to know the action the government has taken against Morbi executive officer SV Zala. The high court made the observation while it was hearing a public interest litigation.

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