The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday orally observed that there may have been collusion between the Morbi civic body and the Oreva Group, which was given the contract for the renovation of a bridge in the district that collapsed in October, Live Law reported.

Chief Justice Aravind Kumar made the remark after Additional Solicitor General Devang Vyas, appearing on behalf of the civic body, told the court that the company opened the bridge for public use without informing them and without providing any fitness certificate.

“What were you [Morbi civic body] doing?” Chief Justice Kumar asked. “You are an instrumentality of the state, you are equipped with law, why did you allow them to open the bridge?...An inference can be drawn, subject to what you say further, but it appears there was collusion between you two.”

The colonial-era bridge on the Machchu river had collapsed on the evening of October 30 last year, killing 141 persons. The tragedy had taken place just four days after the bridge was reopened for the public following seven months of renovation. The Gujarat High Court is hearing a public interest litigation on the matter.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the Oreva Group alleged that “some very highly placed entities” persuaded it to take over the repair and operation of the bridge, reported The Indian Express.

The company told the court that the bridge was not a commercial venture for the company and added that it was part of the many philanthropic activities.

“Somehow fortune has not favoured us [Oreva Group], this disastrous event has taken place and we were doing whatever work was to be done, vigilantly,” advocate Nirupam Nanavaty, representing the Oreva Group, told the court. “My clients are also shattered.”

The group also told the court that it was willing to “unconditionally” take responsibility for seven children, who lost both of their parents in the incident, reported Live Law.

“The company will give take care of their residence, other amenities of life, and education, and as per their qualification, they will be provided with a job,” it said.