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Uphaar tragedy: Ansal brothers, 10 others guilty

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Nov 20: A local court today held two Ansal brothers and ten others guilty in the June 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.

The quantum of punishment will be pronounced tomorrow.

While Ansal brothers--Sushil and Gopal--and three others were charged under Section 304A for causing death due to negligence, the remaining seven were held guilty under Section 304, for for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Four other accused had died during the pendency of the trial.

A total of 59 persons had died when a fire had broke out in the transformer in the Uphaar cinema hall, during the screening of a Hindi movie, 'Border' on June 13, 1997.

Pronouncing the verdict, Additional Sessions judge Mamata Sehgal found, apart from the Ansals who own Uphaar cinema, MCD officials Shyam Sundar Sharma and N D Tiwari, and H S Pawar of the Delhi Fire Service, guilty under Sec 304A of the IPC, for causing death by negligence. This could entail imprisonment for ten years or fine.

Managers of Uphaar cinema Radhakrishna, Nirmal Chopra and Ajit Chaudhury, and Manmohhan Unniyal, gate-keeper of the cinema, and Delhi Vidyut Board's Brij Mohan Satija, A K Gera, DVB and Bir Singh, were found guilty under 304 of IPC, for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The maximum sentence under this section is life imprisonment or ten years.

Four accused--S N Dandona, PWD, Surendra Dutt, R M Puri, Director of Uphaar and K L Malhotra, DGM Uphaar died during the pendency of trial.

The CBI in its chargesheet in the case on November 15, 2001 had initially named 16 people as accused. The agency held the DVB, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the licensing authority responsible for failing to follow the rules.

The Ansals were accused of violating the building rules. The Delhi Fire Service officials were also held responsible for issuing a no-objection certificate without proper inspection of the cinema hall.

The CBI which examined 115 witnesses during the ten-year-long trial, had alleged that the accused were directly and criminally negligent in the management of the theatre.


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