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Morbi bridge collapse: Gujarat HC denies bail to Oreva's managing director Jaysukh Patel

Ahmedabad: TheGujarat high court on Tuesday dismissed bail application of Jaysukh Patel, the managing director ofclock-making firm Oreva, inMorbi suspension bridge collapse incident which killed 135 people a year ago. Oreva Group was responsible for upkeep of the bridge.

Justice Divyesh A Joshi pronounced the order dismissing the application while holding that case records, prima facie, establishes that Patel had knowledge that “this kind of unfortunate incident might occur for want of proper maintenance of the suspension bridge.”

The order adds, “…even after having sufficient knowledge of the condition of the bridge, despite that, he has given permission to open the bridge for public.” The court has observed that being the head of the company, had Patel taken “sufficient corrective measures then this kind of unforeseen incident could have been prevented and valuable and precious lives of innocent persons could have been saved.”

“Thus, without discussing anything on merits and demerits of the case, only considering the fact that, prima facie, the applicant accused was having sufficient knowledge right from the beginning, the nature and gravity of the charges, severity of the punishment in the event of conviction, position and standing of the accused in the society as he being a businessman and when the applications preferred by the victims before the concerned Sessions Court for further investigation and addition of section etc. are pending, I am not inclined to entertain present bail application at this juncture. Accordingly, application stands dismissed,” Justice Joshi concluded.

The court had reserved the verdict on December 13 following conclusion of arguments. During the hearing, the state government didn’t oppose the application and left the decision to the discretion of the court.

The government submitted that in view of period of incarceration, since Patel is a businessman, completion of investigation and no possibility of running away, the court could use its discretion (of granting bail) with conditions. However, victims’ lawyer opposed the bail while arguing that it was not a simple case of negligence but “gross negligence.”

In October last year, theBritish era suspension bridge over Machhu river collapsed, killing 135 people who had gathered during Diwali vacation. JaysukhPatel’s Oreva Group, which manufactures wall clocks, e-bikes among other products, was responsible for maintaining and managing the bridge.

Pateland nine others were booked for culpable homicide and negligence, among other charges.Investigation revealed thatPateldidn’t seek permission from local authority for opening the bridge after the renovation. The probe also established that renovation was not carried out by any expert engineers and no fitness certificate was produced before making the bridge open for the general public.

The police charge sheeted ten accused including Patel, out of which six are enlarged on bail while three are behind bars.

(Published 19 December 2023, 06:42 IST)

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