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Morbi bridge Collapse: Gujarat High Court dismisses application filed by councillors of MNP seeking to intervene in suo motu case

The Gujarat High Court has dismissed the application which was filed by 46 councillors of the Morbi Nagar Palika (MNP) seeking to to intervene in the suo motu case on the Morbi bridge collapse, on the ground that the State government is likely to dissolve the civic body and take over its administration.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastrimade said that the Court has so far not passed any order for the state to take over MNP.

The Court added that the applicant councillors ‘absolutely misunderstood’ its observations.

Chief Justice Kumar stated that  it was the Advocate General who  has submitted that the State is contemplating to take a decision (to supersede). 

The Court clearly added that as far as court is concerned we haven’t ordered or directed the State to do so.

The Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court also said  that just on mere apprehensions that the State might take some decision,we cannot allow any intervention.

Senior Advocate Navin Kumar Pahwa,who was  representing the councillors said that on November 24, the Bench had in an order observed that the State should exercise its powers under the Gujarat Municipalities Act and dissolve the Morbi Nagar Palika. 

The advocate pointed out that the observations of the Court are considered as directions and that the State was likely to take a decision superseding the civic body.

Pahwa argued that the councillors have fought elections and won the same. he added that it seems now by virtue of this Court’s observations, the State would give a go-bye to the procedures for dissolving a civic body and send us home. 

The observations are going to affect us adversely. Thus, we seek to be impleaded as a party in the present proceedings.

The Court is empowered under the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to implead or join parties as may be necessary in order to enable it to effectually adjudicate upon a given case.

The Court said that it has  observed (in one of our earlier orders) that there was a default on part of the civic body and in this view we had posed to the State as to why it hasn’t taken action against the civic body.

It further added that Even before an action is taken, the present application has been filed to thwart the present proceedings. The applicants, thus cannot be construed to be necessary or proper parties.”

The Bench however added that added if at all there are any steps taken by the State, it would be open for the councillors to challenge the said decision.

The Court dismissed the civil application and said tgat we are of the opinion that the councillors, aren’t a necessary or proper party. At this stage, their presence isn’t necessary and thus, we dismiss the civil application.

During the course of the hearing, the Bench also allowed the private contractor, Ajanta, which was roped in for carrying out repair works on the bridge, to intervene in the proceedings. This, after another intervenor – the kin of two victims who died in the incident – sought to implead the contractor as a party to the petition.

The matter will be next heard on January 19, 2023.

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