SC directs Ansal brothers to surrender by tomorrow

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New Delhi, Sep 10 (UNI) The Supreme Court today directed Sushil Ansal, his brother Gopal Ansal, Nirmal Singh Chopra and Ajit Chaudhary, convicted and sentenced in the Uphaar fire tragedy case, to surrender before the trial court latest by 1600 hrs tomorrow.

A bench comprising Justices B N Agarwal and J S Singhvi set aside the impugned order of the Delhi High Court dated January 4, 2008 under which the four were granted bail during the pendency of their appeal.

The Ansal Brothers, who are the proprietors of Uphaar Theatre in Green Park, South Delhi, were sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment for criminal negligence.

Chopra and Chaudhary were handed down seven-year imprisonment.

Fifty-nine people were suffocated to death on June 13, 1997, when a fire broke out in the cinema hall.

The apex court in its order today said, ''Having given our anxious consideration, we are of the view that it was not a fit case in which the High Court should have granted bail to Chopra and Chaudhary.

''As far as Gopal Ansal and Sushil Ansal are concerned, it is well settled in the appeal against conviction and sentence bail is granted without much ado. In view of the conduct of the accused persons after grant of bail during trial, we are of the view that it was not a fit case for grant of bail. Appeals are allowed. Impugned orders are set aside.'' The apex cout, however, directed that the hearing of the appeals in the case will be taken up on a day-to-day basis by another Judge of the High Court and will be disposed of as expeditiously as possible.

Earlier, the judges observed, ''Tampering with court records is worse than dacoity and murder.'' The Judges also observed, ''Ours is a country, where tragedy occurs. We cry and then wait for another tragedy to occur.'' The court, however, made it clear that the High Court will not be influenced by any observation made by us in this order and decide the appeals on merit.

Today's order was passed on the petition of the Uphaar tragedy victims association.

UNI SC LPB BD1710

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