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Ghatkopar hoarding collapse: Court extends custody of arrested duo

ByManish K Pathak
Jun 16, 2024 07:40 AM IST

Janhavi Marathe and Sagar Kumbhar's police custody extended to June 21 in Ghatkopar billboard collapse case. Four arrests made as investigation continues.

Mumbai: A metropolitan magistrate court on Sunday extended the police custody of Janhavi Marathe and Sagar Kumbhar, arrested in connection with the Ghatkopar billboard collapse to June 21.

HT Image

Marathe, previously a director at Ego Media Pvt Ltd, and Kumbhar, a contractor associated with the hoarding’s erection, were arrested in Goa by the Mumbai Crime Branch’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) on June 8.

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During the investigation, the police found out that Marathe did not have a contract agreement for installing the hoardings, though her company around 1 crore to him in the past four years for constructing the foundation and piling work of the four hoardings in Ghatkopar. One of the hoardings collapsed on May 13, resulting in the death of 17 people and injuring 74 others.

The SIT has been questioning the two to discover other people’s involvement in the illegal hoarding. So far, four individuals have been arrested in the case. Ego Media owner Bhavesh Bhinde was first arrested on May 16, followed by Manoj Ramkrishna Sanghu, a BMC-approved engineer who issued a stability certificate for the oversized hoarding despite knowing it exceeded stipulated limits. Both Bhinde and Sanghu are in judicial custody.

The police also found that tender was not issued for the fourth 120x120feet hoarding in Pant Nagar, Ghatkopar East and GRP officials had permitted the hoarding illegally to Ego Media Pvt Ltd. However, BMC officials also did not take any action against the same.

The SIT has found that civic engineer Sunil Dalvi, posted in BMC’s N-ward office from November 2021 to April 2024 was in regular touch with Bhinde, and ACP Shahaji Nikam, posted in GRP.

A senior official said they would soon summon and record the statement of an advocate of a private legal firm who had given the wrong opinion in favour of government railway police (GRP) that the rules of the railway and not the BMC would apply for the plot of the land where Ego Media erected the hoarding.

Even, the legal firm was paid by Ego Media. The official added that the GRP should have taken the legal opinion of their own law office, the directorate of prosecution and the law and judicially department.

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