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Rajkot fire: Gujarat HC orders probe into functioning of all municipal commissioners in view of Rajkot, Morbi and Vadodara tragedies

The High Court has remarked that "the working of the Municipal Commissioners of the Corporations in the state has become aweigh".
Last Updated : 17 June 2024, 07:00 IST

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Ahmedabad: Citing fatal accidents such as the Rajkot gaming zone fire, Morbi suspension bridge collapse and Harni Lake boat capsize, the Gujarat High Court has ordered the state government to probe into the functioning of all municipal commissioners in the state as the incidents reflected "dereliction of duties" on the part of these officers.

The High Court has remarked that "the working of the Municipal Commissioners of the Corporations in the state has become aweigh".

A division bench of chief justice Sunita Agarwal and justice Pranav Trivedi observed while acting on a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL), "We also require that in overall supervising role of the state government, an inquiry be conducted into the working of the municipal corporations in the state in view of recent incidents reflecting dereliction of duties on the part of the municipal commissioners of the respective Corporations in the state of Gujarat, which have become evident with unfortunate incidents such as the Morbi Bridge Collapse, Harni Lake boat tragedy and Rajkot TRP gaming zone fire incident".

The bench stated that these incidents have shown that corporations have kept public places and places of amusement where public footfall is large "unsafe for human lives, because of dereliction in discharge of duties or inaction of the head of the institution".

On May 25, 27 people including many children were burnt to death in the Rajkot TRP gaming zone fire incident. In January, a boat capsized in Harni lake during a joyride in which 12 students and two teachers were killed in Vadodara. Earlier, in October 2022, 135 people died by drowning in Machchhu river after a British era suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi town. In all these cases, serious security lapses were found to be violated by the private firms right under the nose of civic authorities. They lacked approvals and security clearances.

The division bench has said, "The Principal Secretary, Urban Development and Urban Housing Department is required to take stringent action to put his house in order, in as much as, it is evident that the working of the municipal commissioners of the corporations in the state has become aweigh". The court has underlined that stringent actions should be taken so that it acts as a deterrent against any such lapses on the part of officers in future. The court has also sought an inquiry and action taken report from the principal secretary in a month.

Earlier on May 26, after taking suo motu consigance of Rajkot fire, the High Court remarked that the Rajkot fire was a "man-made disaster" and pulled up the government for not taking action against senior supervisory officers like commissioners in any of these cases.

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Published 17 June 2024, 07:00 IST

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