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Gujarat High Court Orders Probe into Rajkot Game Zone Fire Tragedy, Municipal Inaction

The Gujarat High Court has issued stringent directives following the tragic fire at Rajkot Game Zone Fire, instructing the state government to establish a fact-finding committee to investigate the incident thoroughly.

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Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi presided over the bench, emphasizing that no municipal officer found negligent should be exempt from scrutiny.

In response to the May 24 fire that claimed 27 lives, the court underscored the need for a comprehensive inquiry into the Rajkot Municipal Corporation’s (RMC) handling of the matter. It mandated that all aspects of dereliction of duty by RMC officials be thoroughly examined to ensure accountability.

Highlighting a broader concern, the court also called for an inquiry into the operations of municipal corporations statewide. This directive comes in light of recent tragedies such as the Morbi bridge collapse and the Harni Lake boat accident, suggesting systemic lapses in ensuring public safety across various civic amenities.

Furthermore, the Gujarat High Court extended its scrutiny to include safety measures in educational institutions catering to young children. It directed physical inspections of both state-run and private schools to verify compliance with fire safety regulations and building permissions. Reports on these inspections are to be submitted within a month.

The court emphasized the seriousness of the Rajkot Game Zone Fire incident, noting that the gaming zone operated without proper building use permissions, relying solely on police permits under the Gujarat Police Act. It criticized the municipal commissioners for failing in their duty to prevent unauthorized structures and ensure adherence to safety norms.

Acknowledging the lack of a formal inquiry into the lapses, the Gujarat High court mandated a high-level committee to probe and identify responsible officials. This committee, headed by senior officers, will investigate the actions and oversights of RMC officials, including municipal commissioners who held office during the gaming zone’s construction and operation.

The court’s proactive stance underscores the gravity of the incident and aims to enforce accountability while preventing future mishaps. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on July 4, with Advocate DM Devnani assisting the court as amicus curiae. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, Additional AG Manisha Lavkumar, and Additional Government Pleader Vinay Bairaga represented the state government during proceedings.

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