Uphaar case prosecutor withdraws

NEW DELHI, JULY 12. The Special Public Prosecutor in the Uuphaar fire tragedy case, Mr. B.L. Kalra, has withdrawn from the case on health ground.

Moving an application before the Additional Sessions Judge, Ms. Mamta Sehagal, Mr. Kalra expressed his inability to appear in the case further saying that his weak health will not allow him to walk up the stairs to the second floor of Patiala House courts on which the court was recently shifted from the ground floor.

The case is stuck up at the stage of charge on argument over the issue of payment of fee to amicus curae sought by two accused in the case. Ms. Mamta Sehagal has reserved her order on that.

Mr. Ramesh Gupta and Mr. K.K. Sareen, who have been appointed amicus curae to represent Manmohan Uniyal, gate-keeper of the hall, and its managers, M.S. Chopra, and Radha Kishan Sharma, have moved the court insisting that they be paid as much fee as the Special Public Prosecutor in the case.

The three accused have moved the court for free legal aid saying that they are not in a position to pay the lawyers. The two lawyers have earlier appeared for the three accused in the case.

The case was committed to the Sessions Court for trial in January last year. As many as 59 persons were asphyxiated to death on June 13, 1997, in the tragedy.

There are 16 accused: They are Sushil Ansal, Gopal Ansal, S.N. Dandona, Shyam Sunder Sharma, H.S. Panwar, Surinder Dutt, R.M. Puri, K.L. Malhotra, R.K. Sharma, Nirmal Singh Chopra, Ajit Chaudhary, Manmohan Uniyal, B.M. Satija, A.K. Gera, N.D. Tiwari and Beer Singh.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had charge-sheeted them on November 15, 1997 under Sections 304A/337/338 read with 34 of the Indian Penal code and the court had taken cognisance of the charge-sheet on January 19, 1998.

Sushil Ansal, chairman of the Ansal Properties and Industries Limited, his younger brother, Gopal Ansal, S.N. Dandona, retired executive engineer of Public Works Department and Shayam Sundar Sharma and N.D. Tiwari, administrative officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, have been charge-sheeted under Sections 304A (causing death by rash or negligent act), 337/338 read with 34 of IPC and Section 14 of the Cinematographic Act, 1952.

R.M. Puri, director of the hall, R.K. Sharma, N.S. Chopra, Ajit Chaudhary and K.L. Malhotra, managers of the hall, gate-keeper, Manmohan Uniyal, have been charge-sheeted under Sections 304/337/338 r/w 34 of IPC and Section 14 of the Cinematographic Act and B.M. Satija, A.K. Gera and Beer Singh, Delhi Vidyut Board officials, under Sections 304/337/338 r/w 34 of IPC.