Can't be tried in Uphaar fire case: Amod Kanth

A former IPS officer on Monday told the Delhi High Court that he cannot be tried for allegedly allowing extra seats in Uphaar cinema as “sanction to prosecute” him was not procured. At least 59 people died in a fire that broke out at the cinema in 1997.

“If there was no sanction (to prosecute), then the metropolitan magistrate had no business to issue summons against the petitioner (Amod Kanth),” Kanth’s counsel told Justice P K Bhasin.

The counsel said the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Delhi Police Act required that a prior sanction was “must” to prosecute a police officer for acts done in discharge of official duty.

“Not only that the plea (against Kanth) is hopelessly time barred as the Act complained of (allowing 37 extra seats in the cinema hall) pertains to 1979, and the incident took place on June 13, 1997,” added the counsel.

“How it was time barred? Further investigation was conducted in pursuance of the judgement of the trial court (in the main case),” replied Justice Bhasin, to which the counsel said: “Only Constitutional courts have the power to issue such kinds of directions.”

Seeking prosecution

Now, senior advocate K T S Tulsi will advance arguments on November 27 on behalf of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, which is seeking Kanth’s prosecution.

A case was filed against Kanth on the order of the court following an application moved by the association, accusing him of allowing extra seats in the theatre in the capacity of DCP (licencing), allegedly with the knowledge that such a decision will be disastrous during an emergency, such as fire.

Fifty-nine people died of asphyxia on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Border as they could not escape from the hall in time.

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