Monday, May 2, 2011

No respite for supervisor in building collapse during quake ,The Gujarat high court has refused to discharge a construction supervisor

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court has refused to discharge a construction supervisor, Satyanarayan Dattu, in a case of building collapse during the 2001 earthquake in Paldi area of the city.
The court dismissed his revision applications seeking dropping of charges leveled as per IPC, the Gujarat Ownership of Flat Act as well as under BPMC by-laws and ISI Code and upheld a lower court’s decision to try him for the accusations of negligence and culpability.
As per the case details, a block of Tagore Park Flats near Vishwakunj Society and a portion of Shashwat Flats near Pritamnagar Society in Paldi area collapsed on January 26, 2001, causing death and injuries to several persons. Dattu, a civil engineer and supervisor of these two constructions, along with builders and other overseers, was booked by police. A chargesheet was filed in 2008, holding him accused for the weak construction and the case was later committed to a court of sessions at Bhadra campus last year.
Dattu had filed a discharge application before the sessions court, but the court rejected it in February this year. He then approached the high court, where his counsel contended that Dattu was a licensed engineer with AMC. He was a salaried engineer working with an architect firm and his main duty was to make plan and submit to corporation for approval.
He claimed that he was not entrusted with the duty of supervision, but someone else was the supervisor.
Hence the lower court should have discharged him on the ground that it is not prosecution’s case that the buildings collapsed due to faulty plan or improper structural design.
The state government, on the other hand, contended that Dattu was jointly and severally liable for the building collapse as he was the supervisor and it was his duty to see that the construction was carried out as per the plan and construction took place as per various building by-laws. The public prosecutor argued that the reason for building collapse can be ascertained only upon leading evidence during trial. The court at this stage cannot scrutinize the evidence, but what is required to be seen is whether prima facie case is made out against the accused and he is required to be tried.
After hearing the arguments, Justice M D Shah concluded that from the chargesheet and other documents, there is strong prima facie evidence to implicate Dattu with the offence alleged. Considering the nature of his duties, the court was of the opinion that there is sufficient ground to proceed with the trial.

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