SC commences hearing on criminal liability in Uphaar tragedy

The Supreme Court on Thursday commenced hearing on the CBI's appeal challenging the Delhi High Court's decision to reduce the sentence imposed on real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal besides nine others in the 1997 Uphaar cinema tragedy that claimed the lives of 59 filmgoers.

A Bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra asked senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appearing for the Ansals to lead evidence to prove that the theatre had sufficient exit facilities to facilitate the escape of the filmgoers  at the time of the fire inferno.

"You have to lead evidence to prove that the theatre had sufficient exit facilities for the victims to escape within two minutes from the carbon monoxide,” the Bench told the counsel during the arguments. Opening the arguments, Jethmalani submitted that the theatre management and the Ansals were not in any way responsible for the tragedy and the entire blame, if any, has to be apportioned to the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB). “If anybody has to be convicted it has to be PW 40(B C Bharadwaj). He had to be convicted for the murder,” he argued. 

Bharadwaj was a senior engineer with the now defunct DVB. The arguments would resume next week. The Ansals had challenged their conviction and maintained they were in no way responsible for the incident as the fire mishap they claimed was on account of the DVB transformer. 

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