Taking note of an accident in which 25 people, mostly students, were washed away in a river in Himachal Pradesh, the high court here Monday said it was not only a case of callousness but also grave negligence.
"It's a sad tale by reason of the fact that sheer fun of the young students turned out to be fatal as a consequence of utter and callous negligence of the power project authorities," Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan said.
"In case, the water has been discharged without any warning as alleged, then prima-facie, it is established that it is not only a case of callousness, but a case of grave negligence on the part of the project authorities," he observed.
The Himachal Pradesh high court, which treated a media report as public interest litigation, directed the state to file a status report on the incident by June 16.
Besides, it asked the hydropower project authorities to take all remedial measures so as to avoid any mishap in future.
The court said it cannot even be said to be an error of judgement or accident in as much as it was the duty of the authorities to have at least issued warning so as to ensure evacuation of the river bank before discharging the water.
"Therefore, the project authorities have prima-facie displayed callous and wanton disregard to their duties".
At least 24 students, including six girls, and a tour operator were reported missing after strong currents in the river in Mandi district, some 200 km from here, washed them away Sunday evening.
More than 60 students and faculty members from the VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad, were on an excursion to Manali.