Delhi High Court dismisses petitions filed by Uphaar cinema hall owners challenging summons for tampering of evidence. A fine of Rs. 25,000 each was also imposed on the four petitioners.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed criminal revision petitions filed by Uphaar cinema hall owners, Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, and two others challenging their summoning by an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) here in a case of tampering of evidence in the Uphaar fire tragedy case of 1997.

Justice S. Muralidhar of the Court also imposed a cost of Rs.25,000 on each of the petitioners.

The two other petitioners were Dharamvir Malhotra and Prem Prakash Batra. They were employees of the Ansals at the time of the tragedy.

Dismissing the four petitions, Justice Muralidhar said: “This Court does not find any merit in any of the petitions. Each of the petitions is accordingly dismissed with a cost of Rs.25,000 each.”

The Court directed the petitioners to pay the costs to the Delhi Government within four weeks from the pronouncement of the judgment.

Taking cognisance of a supplementary charge-sheet filed by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi police in January last year for allegedly removing, tampering and mutilating important documents of the Uphaar fire tragedy case in conspiracy with a clerk in a trial court here in 2003, ACMM had summoned the Ansals and other accused in the case.

The investigating agency charge-sheeted them under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence or giving false information to screen offenders) and 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code.

The other accused who are being prosecuted in the case are H.S. Panwar and Anoop Singh.

The charge-sheet said that court clerk Dinesh Chand Sharma was the henchman of the Ansals. They had entered into a conspiracy with him for tampering with the evidence. The charge was prima facie made out against the Ansals on the ground that Prem Prakash Batra had got the clerk a job following his dismissal from the court service at twice the normal salary in A-Plus Security Agency which also provided security services to a company under the control of the Ansals, the charge-sheet said.

Sushil Ansal also provided a job to accused H.S. Panwar, a former Delhi Fire Service employee, in his company, Sushant Estate, after his retirement.

“Evidence has come on record to prove that accused Panwar has committed serious acts of commission and omission during his service by rendering services to the Ansals,” the charge-sheet said.

The EOW had registered the case in 2006 on a Delhi High Court direction on a petition by Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy convener Neelam Krishnamurthy.

The removal and tampering with the papers came to light when the public prosecutor in the fire tragedy case had in 2003 noticed that several important documents filed along with the charge-sheet were missing from the court record or had been tampered with or mutilated by tearing off certain portions or sprinkling ink on them.

The prosecutor had brought this to the notice of the court. The court had ordered an inquiry into it and later ordered dismissal of the clerk on the basis of the probe report.

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