PIL in SC Seeks Action After Harni Boat Tragedy: Targets School Authorities, Collectors, and Municipal Commissioner for Negligence

Legal Developments Following Vadodara’s Harni Lake Boat Tragedy

A total of 14 lives were lost, including 12 children and 2 teachers, in the unfortunate incident where a boat carrying children and teachers capsized in Vadodara’s Harni lake on the evening of January 18. Subsequently, an FIR has been registered against the accused in this case.

The day after the incident, Brijesh Trivedi, the president of the Gujarat High Court Advocate Association, appeared before the Chief Justice’s court, urging the court to treat this case as suo moto. The decision from the High Court is currently pending. In Delhi, a public interest petition has been filed by the Morbi Victims Association, which includes an advocate on record in the Supreme Court.

The petition alleges negligence on the part of officials from the Vadodara District Collectorate and the Municipal Corporation. The petitioner contends that the Vadodara Collector should be held accountable for the accident under the Disaster Management Act. Furthermore, the petitioner calls for the suspension of the Vadodara Collector and Municipal Commissioner, along with initiating legal action against them. Additionally, the petition emphasizes the need for legal action against the principals and trustees of the school involved.

Demand for Increased Compensation and Accountability in Vadodara Boat Tragedy

The petition urges that a compensation of six lakh rupees for the victims is insufficient, and both the Central and State governments should consider providing a more substantial compensation amount. The plea highlights that officers from the corporation involved in the accident are seemingly evading accountability.

The application emphasizes that the children lost their lives due to systemic negligence. Despite government officials being associated with the incident, none were named in the FIR, a point noted by the police. The petition draws attention to the fact that government officials issued the necessary NOC (No Objection Certificate), suggesting their involvement in the incident. It stresses the need for comprehensive accountability and a more substantial compensation package for the victims.

Call for Accountability and Independent Investigation in Vadodara Boat Tragedy

The petitioners, aiming to involve the Collector and Municipal Commissioner in the case, advocate for the establishment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to thoroughly examine the incident. They propose that the SIT should operate under the oversight of either the Supreme Court or the High Court.

Citing previous incidents like Morbi Bridge, Palanpur Bridge, Vadodara boat accident, and Taxila, the petition underscores a pattern of negligence in Gujarat leading to tragic events. The petitioners assert that corruption among government officials has contributed to the loss of lives, and in this particular case, the school is equally accountable. The petition questions who authorized the police to rescue individuals during the operation, and the Vadodara District Collector and Municipal Commissioner have been specifically requested to be part of the proceedings.

Administrative Actions Following Vadodara Boat Tragedy

Following the tragic incident, Vadodara Corporation Municipal Commissioner, Dilip Rana, took decisive action late in the evening on Friday. He ordered the seizure of the lake and subsequently canceled the contract of M/s Kotia Project, the entity responsible for the lake.

The corporation has initiated an inquiry to identify the sub-contractor involved in the original contract.

As a result of these actions, all entry and exit points of Vadodara Harni Lake Zone were sealed yesterday. The food court shops were also sealed, and entry into the premises has been prohibited due to the ongoing investigation. A criminal case has been registered, and strict actions will be taken against anyone attempting to enter the lake zone.

SIT Established for Harni Boat Accident Investigation

The Vadodara City Police Commissioner has taken a significant step by forming a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Harni boat accident. This team comprises 7 police officers, and a committee chaired by the Additional Commissioner of Police has been established to ensure an impartial and thorough investigation into the crime associated with the Harni lake accident. The responsibility for the investigation has been entrusted to the ACP Crime Branch.

Composition of the Investigative Team for Harni Boat Accident

The investigative team, chaired by Additional Commissioner of Police Manoj Ninama, is comprised of 7 police officers. The team members are as follows:

  1. Panna Momaya – NA Commissioner, Zone-4, Vadodara City (Supervision Officer)
  2. Yuvraj Singh Jadeja – NA Commissioner, Crime Branch, Vadodara City (Supervision Officer)
  3. HA Rathore – Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Vadodara City (Investigating Officer)
  4. C.B.Tandel – PI, Harni Police Station, Vadodara City (Member)
  5. M.F.Chowdhary – PI, Crime Branch, Vadodara City (Member)
  6. P.M.Dhakada – PSI, DCB. Post Sta., Vadodara City (Member)

Niyati Rao

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