Fact-finding team must probe Rajkot fire, says Gujarat High Court

The court hit out at municipal commissioners, accusing them of massive negligence in the fire incident, which occurred last month in which 27 people were charred to death 

Updated - June 14, 2024 11:20 am IST

Published - June 14, 2024 12:27 am IST - AHMEDABAD

Earth movers on May 26, 2024 remove debris at the site of a fire accident at the TRP game zone in Rajkot.

Earth movers on May 26, 2024 remove debris at the site of a fire accident at the TRP game zone in Rajkot. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Gujarat High Court on June 13 slammed the State government and directed it to set up a “fact-finding committee” to probe the Rajkot game zone fire incident and the role of officials in allowing the illegal structure to come up which remained functional for years without any licence. 

During the hearing of suo motu petition, the court hit out at municipal commissioners, accusing them of massive negligence in the fire incident, which occurred last month in which 27 people were charred to death. 

The court questioned the State government’s tendency to blame only contractors for such incidents and expressed its anger over just setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and removing junior officers, stating it would not spare the higher officers in such instances.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi instructed the State government to set up the fact-finding committee under the Principal Secretary of the Urban Development and Housing Department, with a report due by July 4. 

The Bench also mandated fire safety inspections for schools across the State.

Despite a parallel probe by a SIT, the court expressed concerns that only lower-ranked officials were being held accountable, while the ‘big fish’ remained unscathed.

Chief Justice Agarwal emphasised that top officials must not evade responsibility, drawing parallels to past incidents like the Morbi bridge collapse. The court made it clear that a thorough inquiry was imperative to identify every erring official and fix accountability accordingly.

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