Thursday, March 23, 2023

Uphaar tragedy 1997: Patiala Court dismisses appeal against conviction of Ansal brothers

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The Patiala Court in Delhi today dismissed the appeals against conviction of Ansal brothers in the evidence tampering case relating to the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy.

The appeals of all the accused including Sushil and Gopal Ansal were dismissed by the District and Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma.

Appeal of one Anoop Sharma was, however, not dismissed.

As the judgement of the conviction passed by the Magisterial Court was upheld, Singh was acquitted.

The discussion or the argument on sentence will take place on Tuesday.

On November 2021, a Magistrate court had awarded Ansal seven years in jail along with Rs 2.25 crore fine each for tampering with evidence in the fire tragedy case.

The other convicts were slapped with fine of Rs three lakh each. The convicts were P.P. Batra, Dinesh Chandra Sharma and Singh, who were awarded the same jail term as Ansals, of seven years.

The Ansals had approached the Sessions Court against the Magistrate verdict.

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, who represented the victim’s association, asked for maximum punishment for the convicts emphasising that it was Ansals’ ‘second conviction’.

The advocate said that Ansals should be penalised as they again misused the liberty granted to them.

The case arose when on June 13, 1997 a serious fire broke in Uphaar cinema that took 59 lives and left several people injured.

A charge sheet was submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation, after completing its investigation against Sushil Ansal, Gopal Ansal and others accused.

In 2003, an inquiry was ordered again by a Court, when documents related to the Uphaar tragedy case went missing from the court record room. Upon conclusion of the inquiry, the court employee was dismissed.

In the advanced stage, while the trial was almost at the final stage, it was noticed by the public prosecutor that several important documents that had been seized by the Investigating Officer were either missing from records or had been tampered with.

The question that arose before the Magistrate court was that the critical documents, which could prove their complicity in the crime, were destroyed by the Ansal brothers in conspiracy with other accused persons.

In the main case, the Supreme Court has held that Ansal brothers were guilty of culpable homicide, although it did not amount to murder.

Ansals were fined with Rs 30 crore.

Later in a review petition, the top court decided to send Gopal Ansal back to jail for a year while giving reprieve to Sushil, considering his advance age.

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