New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on 14 November a plea for a judicial commission to probe the horrific bridge collapse in Morbi, Gujarat two days ago that has claimed the lives of at least 135 people.
The public interest litigation (PIL) has sought the judicial commission be fronted by a retired top court judge.
The 141-year-old suspension bridge over the Machchhu River snapped under the weight of a crowd of people on Sunday evening, barely days after it opened following repairs.
A criminal investigation has been opened and nine people arrested so far, including officials of Gujarat-based Oreva firm that carried out the repairs, people who sold tickets to the bridge and security officials.
The PIL by advocate Vishal Tiwari said: “From past decade various incidents have taken place in our country wherein due to the mismanagement, lapse in duty, negligent maintenance activities, there have been cases of huge public casualties which could have been avoided.”
The petitioner pointed out that the bridge was opened on 26 October 26 after repair and maintenance “despite knowing that it posed a threat to life”.
Tiwari further said that at the time of collapse, the bridge had more than 500 people on it which was way above the permissible limit. He also said no fitness certificate was acquired by the private operator before reopening the bridge and that there was no administrative supervision by the state government.
“Such shows no concern for human life and it is an utter dreadful act of violation of human rights that is the breach of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the plea said.
The advocate also sought a thorough review of old bridges and monuments in India, and asked the apex court to direct states to take responsibility for the risk assessment.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who is in Gujarat ahead of the assembly polls due year-end — will visit Morbi on Tuesday.
Also read: The ‘ruckus’ that led to Gujarat’s Morbi bridge collapse & the challenges facing rescue teams