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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Calcutta High Court asks KMC to suspend erring officials for Garden Reach building collapse

The division bench, also comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, observed that rampant unauthorised construction on the premises could not have been done without the complicity of the officers of the KMC

PTI Calcutta Published 08.04.24, 06:09 PM
Calcutta High Court.

Calcutta High Court. File picture.

The Calcutta High Court on Monday directed Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to suspend erring officials in an illegal building collapse in the city's Garden Reach area that claimed 12 lives.

Observing that investigation into the "complicity of the members of KMC in the crime is of utmost necessity," the court directed the police to take into consideration this angle in its probe.

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The court said that it would take a call on a prayer by the petitioner for CBI investigation into the matter if the local police do not hold the probe in a bonafide manner and "do not lift the veil over the public servants who appear to be conveniently somnolent." A division bench presided by Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed the KMC to take appropriate steps "including suspension and disciplinary proceedings against the erring officers in accordance with law." Twelve people died and several others were injured in the collapse of the illegal five-storeyed building in Calcutta's Garden Reach area in the wee hours of March 18.

During the hearing of the matter, Advocate General Kishore Dutta, representing the West Bengal government, submitted a report about steps taken in the investigation of the case.

Another report was filed by the KMC on the rehabilitation of the affected persons.

The state's report stated that the promoter of the unauthorised building has been arrested.

The AG stated that some of the owners of the collapsed building have been arrested, while other accused persons who are at large are being looked for by the police.

The division bench, also comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, observed that rampant unauthorised construction on the premises could not have been done without the complicity of the officers of the KMC.

"It appears that they remained indifferent to their statutory duties and turned a blind eye when the owners and promoters brazenly undertook unauthorised construction," the court observed.

The bench directed the state to file a further report on the progress of the investigation.

The KMC, which stated in its report that show-cause notices have been issued against officers who were entrusted with the duty to supervise illegal construction in the area, was also directed to file a report on the next date of hearing after two weeks.

Maintaining that it is fine that the owners were arrested since they are the beneficiaries of the conspiracy, the court said it has to be found out who facilitated the illegal activities sitting in office and turned a blind eye to these.

"The investigation should now explore these areas," the court said.

A visibly displeased Justice Bagchi asked the KMC's lawyer whether the municipal corporation gave awards to the erring officers for remaining quiet while these illegal constructions took place.

The bench said that when people have died in the illegal building collapse, heads must roll.

When the AG submitted that the affected persons in the building collapse were shifted to a community hall of the KMC, the court, in a caustic remark, wondered whether that hall was lawfully constructed.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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