Uphaar fire tragedy: Non-bailable warrants issued against Ansal brothers
New Delhi, Mar 26: A Delhi court on Tuesday issued Non-Bailable Warrants against Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal for allegedly tampering with evidence in the Uphaar cinema hall fire case.
The NBW was issued by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi's Patiala House court Deepak Sherawat.
On June 13, 1997, 59 people died of asphyxia in a fire in south Delhi's Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi movie "Border". Over 100 were injured in subsequent stampede.
The Patiala House court is hearing a case related to the tampering of evidence in the case after Krishnamoorthy, who lost two children in the fire, pressed for an early date contending it was a 10-year-old matter which has been already delayed. Krishnamoorthy has been fighting a legal battle for the past 20 years.
Krishnamoorthy, convenor of the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), and her husband Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, have been the flag-bearers in the fight to seek justice on behalf of all the victims.
On February 9, 2017, the Supreme Court, on a curative petition, had directed Gopal Ansal to undergo the remaining one-year jail term in connection with the tragedy. However, it had spared 77-year-old Sushil Ansal because of his age. Justice Gogoi, in a 2:1 majority verdict on February 9, had granted relief to 76-year-old Sushil Ansal considering age-related complications by awarding him jail term already undergone and had asked Gopal to surrender in four weeks to serve the remaining jail term. The apex court had also upheld the fine of Rs. 30 crores each imposed on the brothers and said the money should be utilised for setting up a trauma centre.
A timeline of Uphaar tragedy case:
June 13, 1997: 59 people die of asphyxia in a fire in south Delhi's Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi movie "Border". Over 100 were injured in subsequent stampede.
July 22, 1997: Uphaar theatre owner Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav arrested in Mumbai.
July 24, 1997: Probe transferred from Delhi Police to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Nov 15, 1997: CBI files charge sheet against 16 accused including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal.
March 10, 1999: A sessions court presided by L D Malik initiates trial.
Feb 27, 2001: Court frames charges against accused under various sections, including sections 304 (culpable homicide), 304 A (causing death by negligent act) and 337 (hurt) of the IPC.
May 23, 2001: Recording of prosecution witnesses' testimony begins. April 4, 2002: Delhi High Court asks trial court to try to wrap up the case by December 15.
Jan 27, 2003: Ansals' plea seeking re-possession of the theatre rejected on the ground that place of incident is to be preserved to appreciate evidence.
April 24, 2003: Delhi High Court awards Rs 180 million compensation to be paid to relatives of victims.
Sept 4, 2004: Court starts recording statements of accused.
Nov 5, 2005: Recording of testimonies of defence witnesses begins. Aug 2, 2006: Court concludes recording of testimony of defence witnesses. Aug 9: Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal inspects the theatre.
Feb 14, 2007: Accused start advancing final arguments.
Aug 21, 2007: Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) approaches Delhi High Court seeking conclusion of trial within a time frame.
Aug 20, 2007: Senior advocate Harish Salve appears for CBI and advances final arguments.
Aug 21: Judgement reserved. Court fixes September 5 for pronouncement of verdict.
Sept 5: Court defers pronouncement of verdict and says it would fix the date of judgement on October 22.
Oct 22: Court fixes November 20 as date of verdict.
Nov 20, 2007: Court convicts all 12 accused, including Sushil and Gopal Ansal, in the case and sentences them to two years imprisonment.
Jan 4, 2008: Delhi High Court grants bail to Ansal brothers and two other accused. Sept 11: Ansals sent to Tihar Jail after Supreme Court cancels their bail.
Nov 17, 2008: Delhi High Court reserves order on appeals filed by Ansals, other accused, CBI and AVUT.
Dec 19, 2008: Delhi High Court upholds trial court order convicting Ansal brothers but reduces their sentence from two years to one year. Upholds conviction of six out of 12 accused.
Jan 30, 2009: SC issues notice on petition filed by AVUT for enhancement of sentence of Ansal brothers and alteration of charge. SC also issues notice on plea of Ansals and others challenging their conviction. CBI files appeal in SC seeking enhancement of sentence of Ansals.
Apr 17, 2013: SC reserves order on appeals of Ansals, CBI and AVUT.
Mar 5, 2014: SC upholds conviction of Gopal and Sushil Ansal. However, two judges differ on sentence. Justice T S Thakur awards one year jail term, while Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra sentenced them to period undergone. Matter referred to three-judge bench.
Apr 21, 2015: The new bench couldn't start hearing.
Aug 11, 2015: Hearing begins on quantum of sentence.
Aug 19, 2015: SC allows Ansals to walk free, asks them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each.
Mar 9, 2017: Real estate baron Gopal Ansal will have to surrender to serve the remaining period of the one-year sentence in the Uphaar fire tragedy case with the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissing his plea for parity with his elder brother Sushil Ansal.
Jan 8, 2018: Delhi's Patiala House Court on Monday dismissed application of victims of Uphaar Tragedy which alleged that Sushil Ansal, convicted in the case, duped the concerned authority to get his passport renewed.