The Gujarat High Court said on Monday that it has lost “faith in the state machinery” after it was submitted that the Rajkot game zone had not applied to the authorities for requisite permission.

The court was hearing the case related to the massive fire at the TRP game zone in Rajkot that killed nearly 30 people last week. The court had taken a suo motu cognizance of Rajkot game zone fire on Sunday, calling it a man-made disaster.

The TRP game zone was set up in 2021. The fire at the TRP game zone in the Nana-Mava locality of Rajkot on Saturday evening had killed 27 persons, including children. The game zone was operated without the fire NOC (no objection certificate), as per officials.

The court reportedly pulled up the Rajkot Municipal Corporation on the Monday over the incident. and asked whether it had turned a blind eye to such a big structure coming up in its vicinity, after the RMC’s lawyer submitted that the TRP game zone had not asked for requisite permissions.

‘No faith in state machinery’

During the hearing on Monday, a counsel said the fire incident at the gaming zone required immediate preventive and corrective measures, and the state government will have to come forward to hold a person accountable, and this calls for drastic steps.

The court was then quoted by PTI as saying, “Who will take such drastic steps? Honestly speaking, we do not have faith in the state machinery now.”

“Four years after orders of this court, directing them, after their assurance, this is the sixth incident that has happened. They only want lives to be lost and then trigger the machinery,” the court observed.

Meanwhile, NDTV quoted the court as saying, “Have you gone blind? Did you fall asleep? Now “

The court further asked whether the civic body was blind to the fact that such a big structure had come under its jurisdiction.

“You were blind to that, that this big structure existed; you were not aware of it? What is the corporation’s explanation that the whole zone existed for the last two-and-a-half years? What fire safety did they apply for? When ticketing was done, were you aware of the entertainment tax? So we take it that you are completely turning a blind eye to the whole issue?” the court was quoted by PTI as saying.

The high court also wanted to know when the corporation first recognised the existence of the game zone.

“Till then you were completely ignorant of such a structure in the vicinity? Were you not aware of the orders of this court for fire safety (passed) in a PIL? What were you doing then? There are media reports that your municipal commissioner went there at the time of inauguration. We can’t take judicial notice of that fact? For 18 months, what did the corporation do? Sat over it?” the bench asked.

Gujarat HC’s order to Rajkot municipal commissioners

The court also said that all the Rajkot municipal commissioners, from the time the TRP game zone was set up in 2021 till the time of this incident (on May 25) “should be held accountable for the tragedy that occurred,” and directed them to furnish separate affidavits.

“We refrain at this stage from passing any orders, though we would certainly desire to, to suggest that the officers in question be suspended for dereliction of duty and non-compliance of the direction of this court. We do not do so with the hope to give them a chance,” the bench further said.

The high court even directed chief fire officers of the Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot municipal corporations to file affidavits on the fire safety measures (in areas of their jurisdiction).

By Minart

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