Uphaar case: SC rules out fresh hearing

Apex court tells CBI to file review petition
Last Updated 20 August 2015, 19:47 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down a plea made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a fresh argument in the 1997 Uphaar cinema
hall fire tragedy case, saying it had already delivered the verdict.

The court, instead, suggested the investigating agency to file a review petition in the case in which real-estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal were on Wednesday fined Rs 60 crore and spared of a fresh jail term.

Amid strong outcry of injustice on behalf of the families of the 59 people who perished in the fire, senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the CBI appeared before a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Anil R Dave to seek 15 minutes time to put forth the arguments on point of sentence.

15 minutes sought
“I appeared for the CBI for 16 years pro bono in the case but was not able to argue the case yesterday, please give me 15 minutes time,” Salve implored the court.

The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Adarsh K Goel, said: “We have already pronounced the order. Fresh hearing can’t be granted now. You can file a review petition against our order.”

The court’s verdict left victims’ families represented by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) shell-shocked and heart-broken. Its convener Neelam Krishnamurthy, who lost her daughter Unnati and son Ujwal in the fire incident, said she has lost faith in the judiciary.

Following Thursday's development, AVUT member Shekhar Krishnamurthy said there is no option left but to file a review petition.

The CBI, however, said the agency would study the SC order and take a decision on filing of the review petition.

Ansal brothers fined
The two brothers were told by the apex court to pay Rs 60 crore to the Delhi government within three months. Both were held guilty of causing death by an act of negligence and other charges by the apex court on March 5, 2014, but the matter was referred to a three-judge following differences of opinion between two judges on the quantum of sentence.

The court had noted that 59 people had lost their lives in the tragedy and almost all of them had died due to asphyxiation as the doors of the South Delhi theatre running the Hindi movie ‘Border’ was closed on June 13, 1997. The Delhi High Court had reduced the sentence of two years imposed on the Ansal brothers by the trial court to one year.
Besides the fine, the apex court on Wednesday sentenced the duo to the period already served by them during the 18-year-long legal proceedings. Sushil (77) and Gopal Ansal (67), had remained in jail for five months and four months, respectively.


(Published 20 August 2015, 19:47 IST)

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