According to the latest reports, the death toll in the collapse of the British-era bridge on Sunday on the Machchhu river in Morbi in Gujarat has gone up to 134 people.
“You are very quick. What are your prayers,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi said when lawyer Vishal Tiwari mentioned his public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue for urgent hearing.
“I am seeking a judicial enquiry by a panel headed by a former Supreme Court judge,” the lawyer said.
The bench then said the PIL would be listed for hearing on November 14.
Tiwari, in the plea, said the accident depicted the negligence and utter failure of government authorities.
From the past decade, various incidents have taken place in our country wherein due to the mismanagement, lapse in duty, and negligent maintenance activities, there have been cases of huge public casualties which could have been avoided, the PIL said.
The more than a century-old bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi, located around 300 km from the state capital Gandhinagar, had reopened five days ago after extensive repairs and renovation.
It was crammed with people when it collapsed around 6.30 pm on October 30.
The death toll in the bridge collapse incident has gone up to 134, a senior police officer said.
In his plea, Tiwari has sought constitution of a judicial commission under the chairmanship of a retired judge of the apex court to initiate probe in the matter.
The plea has sought directions to the states to form committee to survey and conduct assessment risk of old and risky monuments and bridges to ensure environmental viability and safety.
It has also sought direction to the states to constitute in their respective states a construction incident investigation department so that fast and prompt probe could be done whenever such incidents occur.
It said such departments should also have the duty to enquire about the quality and safety of any public construction taking place.
The plea claimed the authorities have also failed in controlling the tourists, and it has been reported that over 500 people were on the bridge at the time of the incident.
“The incident at Morbi has shocked the country wherein due to the utter lapse and negligence on part of government authorities along with the negligence and fault in duty by the private operator has resulted in severe violation of fundamental rights of the people under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” it alleged.
The plea said several old bridges and monuments, which attract a large number of tourists, are there in the country and their assessment risk needs to be looked into to avoid such public casualty.
PTI ABA SJK SRY