Delhi High Court reserves its judgement in Uphaar case

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (UNI) The Delhi High Court today reserved its judgement on an appeal petition of Real Estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal, who are in jail for tampering the evidences in the Uphaar cinema fire case which claimed 59 lives in 1997.

Justice Ravinder Bhat, after hearing lengthy arguments from the prosecution (CBI), Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) and the defence lawyers, reserved the judgement.

A trial court on November 20, 2007 had convicted the Ansal brothers along with three others under Section 304-A IPC (causing death due to rash and negligent act) and had sentenced them to two years imprisonment.

The AVUT challenged the bail order of the Delhi High Court in the Supreme Court stating that the accused had tempered with the trial court documents, which prove them guilty, to influence the High Court to get a favourable judgement.

The Supreme Court, taking tampering of evidences as a grave offence, cancelled the bail of the Ansal brothers and other accused and asked them to surrender in the court.

The Ansal brothers surrendered before Additional Sessions Judge I K Kochhar at the Patiala House district court.

Two managers of the Uphaar theatre, Ajit Chowdhary and Nirmal Chopra, also surrendered before the court.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi had ordered their arrest after cancelling their bail.

The apex court while cancelling the bail of the convicts had taken a strong exception to the alleged tampering with the judicial records of the case by the accused people.

Seven others including Ajit Chowdhary and Nirmal Chopra, whose bail were also cancelled , were convicted under Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and sentenced them to seven years imprisonment.

Others convicted under section 304 IPC were -- Radha Krishan Sharma, Manmohan Unniyal (cinema's gatekeeper), Brij Mohan Satija, A K Gera and Bir Singh (all DVB officials).

The other three convicts -- S S Sharma and N D Tiwari of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and H S Panwar of Delhi Fire Service -- were also granted two years imprisonment as their offences were similar to that of the Ansal brothers.

The Supreme Court had directed not to grant any bail to the Ansals till the final outcome of the appeal application is heard in the High Court.

Day to Day hearing was going on in the Delhi High Court. Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for the Ansal brothers, said it was tragic that such an incident took place but there was no malafide intention or knowledge that such a mishap will occur.

Senior Lawyer K T S Tulsi argued on behalf of AVUT and said the liability of such a big tragedy rests on the Ansals who had increased some seats in the cinema hall and blocked the Exit door due to which people died of asphyxia.

A total 59 people were killed in the blaze in the theatre on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Hindi blockbuster 'Border'.

A fire broke in a transformer which was in the basement of the hall.

The door of the hall was also locked and no immediate help was provided by the theatre employees to open the door and to rescue people. Infact the gatekeeper ran from the spot after locking it from outside, CBI had argued.

UNI SNG KK ND1945

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