Hathras Stampede: SC to Hear Plea Seeking Formation of Expert Committee

Hathras Stampede

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea seeking the appointment of a five-member expert committee, supervised by a retired Supreme Court judge, to investigate the Hathras stampede incident in which more than 100 people were killed on July 2, 2024.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra stated that the matter will be listed. Chief Justice Chandrachud informed lawyer Vishal Tiwari, who had mentioned the case for early hearing, “I have given my listing orders already. It will be listed.”

The plea requests that the committee suggest and frame guidelines and safety measures to prevent such incidents at large public gatherings. The petition further seeks a direction for the State of Uttar Pradesh to submit a status report to the Supreme Court regarding the Hathras stampede and to initiate legal action against individuals, authorities, and officials for their negligent conduct.

Additionally, the plea asks the top court to instruct all state governments to issue guidelines to prevent stampedes or similar incidents to ensure public safety during large religious or other events.

The stampede occurred at a ‘satsang’ organized by a self-styled godman, Bhole Baba, aka Narayan Sakar Hari, in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras. Reports indicate that over two lakh devotees attended the event, although permission was granted for only around 80,000 attendees.

The advocate, in his plea cited several past stampede-like events, including the Kumbh Mela stampede in 1954, which resulted in approximately 800 deaths; the Mecca Masjid stampede in 2007, with 16 deaths; the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine deaths in 2022; the Dussehra celebrations at Gandhi Maidan in Patna in 2014; and the death of around 104 Sabarimala devotees at Pulmedu in Idukki.

“Such incidents prima facie depict a serious lapse in responsibility, negligence, and a failure to care for the public by government authorities. Over the past decade, various incidents in our country have resulted in significant public casualties due to mismanagement, lapses in duty, and negligent maintenance activities, which could have been avoided had appropriate measures been taken,” the plea stated.

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