The Supreme Court has declined to consider a plea for cancelling the bail granted by the Gujarat High Court to an accused who had issued tickets to visitors on the day when the Morbi bridge collapsed last year, leaving 141 people dead.
A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra rejected a contention on behalf of the Tragedy Victim Association, Morbi that the high court wrongly granted bail to the accused.
“He was just selling the tickets,” the CJI said while dismissing the plea for cancellation of the bail granted to accused Mansukhbhai Valjibhai Topia by the high court on June 9.
“We are not inclined to entertain the Special Leave Petitions under Article 136 of the Constitution. The Special Leave Petitions are accordingly dismissed,” the bench said in its order on Monday.
The Gujarat High Court had taken note of the fact that the probe was over and the charge sheet was already filed.
“Since trial will take its own time to conclude, the presence of the applicant is not required in judicial custody as well as the applicant was the ticket issuing person hired by the company and therefore, I am of the opinion that this is a fit case to exercise the discretion and enlarge the applicant on regular bai,” the high court judge had said.
On November 21, 2022, the Supreme Court had termed as an “enormous tragedy” the Morbi bridge collapse that had claimed 141 lives and asked the Gujarat High Court to periodically monitor the probe and other aspects, including rehabilitation and award of “dignified” compensation to the victims.
It had, however, turned down the submissions that a Commission of Inquiry be appointed to ensure that incidents like the Morbi collapse do not happen again. The top court had refused to entertain the pleas, including a PIL seeking an independent probe into the incident, saying the division bench headed by the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice has already taken a suo motu note of the tragedy and has passed several orders.
“As many as 141 persons including 47 children are reported to have perished in the Morbi bridge collapse. Several aspects of the matter would require obtaining periodical responses from the officials of the state and ‘Nagarpalika’ in order that the court is apprised of the antecedent facts leading up to the collapse of the bridge as well as the subsequent developments bearing on relief and rehabilitation and compensation,” it had said.
The British-era bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi in Gujarat collapsed on October 30, 2022.