National

Uphaar tragedy: no further jail term for Ansal brothers

Twenty years after a fire in the south Delhi cinema claimed 59 lives, the families of the victims feel that justice has been denied to them in the case

Twenty years after a fire in the south Delhi cinema claimed 59 lives, the families of the victims feel that justice has been denied to them in the case   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Supreme Court dismisses curative plea by victims; The apex court had in August 2015 allowed the Ansals to walk free and asked them to pay a fine of ₹30 crore each

The Supreme Court has dismissed a curative petition filed by the victims of the Uphaar theatre fire tragedy against Sushil and Gopal Ansal for negligence which led to the death of 59 people in 1997.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices N.V. Ramana and Arun Mishra found no merit in the curative plea filed by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy. The petition was decided in the chambers. The order is dated February 13 and published on Thursday (February 20).

In 2017, in a majority judgment of 2:1, the court had partially reviewed its original judgment of 2015 and decided to send real estate baron Gopal Ansal back to jail for a year while sparing his elder brother Sushil from serving time behind bars due to his advanced age.

The majority decision had come on separate review petitions filed by the CBI against the 2015 judgment of the Supreme Court which had allowed the Ansals to walk free after directing them to pay a total compensation of ₹60 crore.

Also read | Uphaar fire: a tragedy then, a heartache now

In its judgment on the review petitions, the court had noted that Gopal Ansal had already spent four months and 20 days in prison. It had set off this period from his jail term and ordered him to serve the rest of the prison sentence.

Deciding the review the court had further taken into consideration the fact that Sushil Ansal had already served over five months in jail and granted remission. The court had found that for a man of his age — Sushil is in his late 70s — and physical ailments, the punishment would suffice.

The court had upheld the 2015 judgment’s direction to the Ansals to pay a total compensation of ₹60 crore, saying it was not excessive.

Also read | ‘18 years back, I lost faith in God, now I have lost faith in judiciary’

The theatre at Green Park area here became a death-trap in 1997 during the screening of blockbuster movie Border. Smoke from a fire inside the theatre asphyxiated cine-goers as extra seats blocked exit routes. A 100 more were injured in the ensuing stampede inside the blacked-out theatre.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:06:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/uphaar-tragedy-sc-dismisses-curative-plea-by-victims-no-further-jail-term-for-ansal-brothers/article30867802.ece

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