Morbi bridge collapse: Oreva Group MD denied interim bail

The lawyer for the families of the victims stated that if released on bail, the businessman may try to influence witnesses of the case.

Morbi: A court on Tuesday rejected jailed Oreva Group managing director Jaysukh Patel’s plea for interim bail, which he had sought to complete the formalities to pay compensation to the victims of last year’s collapse of a suspension bridge in Gujarat’s Morbi town, in which 135 people were killed.

The court of principal district and sessions judge P C Joshi here dismissed Patel’s interim bail plea, which was opposed by both the state government and family members of the victims.

The Ahmedabad-headquartered Oreva Group was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the ill-fated British-era bridge on the Machchhu river, which collapsed on October 30 last year, killing 135 persons and injuring 56 others.

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Patel, one of the 10 accused arrested in the case, had filed a plea seeking temporary release from jail for 15 to 20 days to complete the formalities required to pay compensation to the families of the deceased and those injured in the crash as per the Gujarat High Court’s February 22 order.

The high court had directed the company to pay Rs 10 lakh as interim compensation to the kin of each deceased and Rs 2 lakh to each injured within four weeks.

During arguments in the sessions court last week, the state government had opposed Patel’s plea and said the company itself came forward with the offer to pay compensation to the victims, and it should be assumed it was ready with the financial arrangement required for the payment.

The government also submitted that the high court’s direction on compensation was for the Oreva Group and not its promoters, and the company has continued to operate even when Patel was jailed.

The lawyer for the families of the victims stated that if released on bail, the businessman may try to influence witnesses of the case.

The Oreva Group had made an offer before the high court to pay an ‘interim’ compensation totaling Rs 5 crore to the kin of those who lost their lives and those injured in the collapse.

The 10 accused arrested in the case are currently lodged in Morbi sub- jail under judicial custody.

Patel, who was shown as an accused in a chargesheet filed by the police, had been absconding for three months and surrendered before a court on January 31.

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