The Morbi district and sessions court in Gujarat on Saturday turned down the regular bail plea of Jaysukh Patel, managing director of Oreva Group, in the case pertaining to last year’s Morbi suspension bridge collapse that killed 135 persons.
Rejecting the bail plea, the court of principal district and sessions judge P C Joshi noted that Patel, the main accused in the case, played an active role in the events that led to the tragedy and he should continue to remain in jail.
Oreva Group was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the British-era suspension bridge which collapsed on October 30, 2022, killing 135 and leaving 56 others grievously injured.
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During the hearing, public prosecutor SK Vora opposed Patel’s bail plea on the ground of parity with nine others accused in the case whose similar petitions were turned down by the court.
The Gujarat government had on March 29 opposed the regular bail plea of Patel. He had moved a plea for regular bail before the same court, nearly three weeks after it had rejected his interim bail plea.
Patel is named as the main accused in the charge sheet filed on March 10 by a special investigation team (SIT) probing the case.
The Morbi-based home appliances, clock and e-bike maker Oreva Group was given the contract by the Morbi municipality in March 2022 to repair and operate the bridge for 15 years and to collect revenue from its ticket sales.
The bridge, after undergoing repairs, was opened to the public on October 26, 2022, the Gujarati New Year, allegedly by Patel and his family members without informing the Morbi municipality.
On March 27, Oreva Group told the Gujarat high court that it has deposited half of the compensation amount to be given to the victims, in compliance with its February 22 order.
On February 22, the Gujarat high court ordered the company which maintained the suspension bridge to pay an interim compensation of ₹10 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased and ₹2 lakh to each injured within four weeks.
Patel, one of the 10 accused arrested in the case, filed a plea seeking temporary release from jail to complete the compensation formalities, citing the Gujarat high court’s February order. However, it was dismissed after the state government and family members of the victims opposed Patel’s bail application.
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The SIT had on January 27 filed a charge sheet against the nine accused arrested earlier in the case. Patel was then shown as a fugitive. He later surrendered before a court and was arrested by the police on January 31.
Patel and others have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (endangering human life), 337 (causing hurt to any person by doing any rash or negligent act) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by doing rash or negligent act).