New Delhi, Nov 23: A trial court today sentenced Gopal and Sushil Ansal, the main accused in the Uphaar fire tragedy case, and three others to two years simple imprisonment.
Seven others, including three managers of Uphaar cinema, covicted under Section 304 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, were sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
The court, however, granted bail to the two Ansal brothers and three others who were convicted under Section 304A for causing death due to negligence, on a surety bond of Rs 25000.
Among those sentenced to seven years RI are Brij Mohan Satya, Vir Singh and A K Gera of the then Delhi Vidyut Board and three managers of the Uphaar Cinema Radha Krishan Sharma, Nirmal Singh Chopra and Ajit Chaudhary. Uphaar gatekeeper Manmohan Unniyal also got a seven-year term and Rs 5000 fine.
While Ansal brothers--Sushil and Gopal, owners of the Uphaar Cinema --and three others - MCD officers Shyam Sunder Sharma and N D Tiwari and H S Panwar of the Delhi Fire Service - were charged under Section 304A for causing death due to negligence, the remaining seven were held guilty under Section 304, for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Four other accused had died during the pendency of the trial. The court had, on November 20, convicted 12 people, including two Ansal brothers, in the 1997 fire tragedy case.
It had, however, adjourned the pronouncement of quantum of sentence to the convicts in the case as the arguments by the defence remained.
Pronouncing the sentence, Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal said in future any complaints pertaining to corruption would be seriously dealt with by the courts. She also asked the CBI to speed up the process of taking action against any more persons in the matter. A pall of gloom descended on the courtroom as soon as the sentence was pronounced with victims of the tragedy expressing disappointment over the quantum of the sentence handed over to the Ansal brothers.
Said Kamal Bhalla, whose husband was among those who died in the fire tragedy that claimed 59 lives, ''We would have been happy if the Ansal brothers too had been handed over seven years' imprisonment. Neverthless, we are happy that justice has triumphed at last.'' At the same time, the victims said they were gearing up for a long fight ahead.
Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AUVT) plans to appeal against the verdict in the hight court.
''It is a long battle ahead,''said Durga Das, whose son was among those who died in the fire in Uphaar cinema.
During the hearing today, the defence counsel, including R K Naseem, Prem Kumar and Ramesh Gupta, put forward various arguments, seeking light punishments, ranging from probation periods to fines, for their clients in view of old age of some of them and the number of dependents in their families..
The defence also alleged that it was a trial by the media, which did not project the case in perspective in the public eye.
The defence said as their clients had no criminal precedents and whatever happened was an accident which nobody intentionally caused with any kind of mala fide intentions the court should be lenient in its approach while sentencing them.
While the defence sought light punishments for their clients, the prosecution asked the court to take all the 12 convicts into custody immediately as their conviction by the court yesterday did not allow them freedom of any kind any longer. But the judge refused to pass any such order, saying as the setencing was only a matter of two-three days, there was no need for it.