Morbi bridge collapse: Oreva’s Jaysukh Patel surrenders, gets jail custody

Jaysukh Patel surrenders in Morbi CJM court following arrest warrant, remanded in judicial custody

Morbi bridge collapse, Jaysukh Patel Oreva Group
In all, 135 people were killed and scores injured when the British-era suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi on October 30, 2022

The managing director of the firm that was responsible for the operation and maintenance of Morbi suspension bridge surrendered before a court in the Gujarat town on Tuesday (January 31) and was remanded in judicial custody.

Jaysukh Patel, managing director of Oreva Group, is an accused in the 2022 Morbi bridge collapse case. In all, 135 people were killed and scores injured when the British-era suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi on October 30.

Police named the businessman as the tenth accused in the 1,200-odd-page chargesheet it filed on January 27. Patel is facing charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Patel surrendered before the Morbi chief judicial magistrate, who had issued an arrest warrant against him. The court accepted his application for surrender and sent him to jail under judicial custody.

Police to seek custody

Ajanta Manufacturing Ltd (Oreva Group) was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the British-era suspension bridge on the Machchhu river. Some 250 people had climbed on the bridge, a popular tourist site, when it collapsed, within days of repairs. The bridge is more than a century old.

“Police will approach the court and seek his custody,” said Dilip Agechaniya, a lawyer representing the victims’ families.

“We will soon initiate the process of seeking his custody from the court,” confirmed Morbi SP Rahul Tripathi.

Watch: Morbi bridge collapse: 1,262-page chargesheet filed against Oreva chief Jaysukh Patel

As Patel arrived in court to surrender, angry victims’ relatives who had gathered outside the court shouted slogans against him.

Earlier, fearing arrest, Patel had moved an anticipatory bail plea in the court, and it was due to come up for hearing on February 1.

Compensation offer

On October 31, a day after the tragedy, Morbi police arrested nine persons in connection with the case, including two managers of the Oreva Group, two ticket booking clerks, two sub-contractors who repaired the bridge, and three security guards deployed to guide and control the crowd.

All the ten accused, including Patel, have been charged under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (act which endangers 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).

Also read: Gujarat polls: Why BJP stays insulated from Morbi tragedy aftermath

During a suo motu hearing on the tragedy in the Gujarat High Court recently, the Oreva Group offered to pay compensation to the victims. However, the court made it clear the compensation would not absolve it of any liability.

Lapses by firm

A special investigation team (SIT) formed by the state government to probe the collapse has cited several lapses on the part of the firm. The lapses included no restriction on the number of persons accessing the bridge and no curb on the sale of tickets.

Also, the repairs were allegedly carried out without consulting experts. According to the SIT, neither of the contractors hired by Patel’s firm were qualified to carry out such repair work.

Also read: Morbi tragedy: No political fallout, no poll issue; only courts seem concerned

The probe revealed the new metal flooring increased the structure’s weight, while the rusted cables on which the bridge was hanging were not changed. Besides, the Ahmedabad-based group did not hire any expert agency to assess the load-bearing capacity of the carriageway before throwing it open to the public after repair work.

The group sold 3,165 tickets on the day of the collapse, and there was no coordination between ticket booking offices at the two ends of the bridge, prosecution lawyers have argued.

(With agency inputs)