1997 Uphaar fire: SC to hear Ansals' plea from Tuesday
The Supreme Court is likely to begin hearing on Tuesday the plea of convicts in the Uphaar fire tragedy where 59 cinegoers had died of asphyxia in a massive blaze that engulfed the theatre nearly 18 years ago.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to begin hearing on Tuesday the plea of convicts in the Uphaar fire tragedy where 59 cinegoers had died of asphyxia in a massive blaze that engulfed the theatre nearly 18 years ago.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices A R Dave, Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy would hear the appeal which has been kept "top of the board" after the victims' association had moved the court for it.
Citing previous instances when the hearing has been adjourned at the request of the counsel for the convicts, Neelam Krishnamoorthy, President of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), said, "I sincerely hope that the Ansals' counsel will not seek another adjournment.
"Because, this is the ploy adopted by them each time the matter is listed for hearing. They ask for it as they do not wish to go behind the bars."
Earlier, a bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra (since retired) had on March 5, 2014, held real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal guilty, but differed on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to them.
It had concurred in holding that there was "contemptuous disregard" of civic laws on the part of Ansals that led to the tragedy as they were more interested in making money than ensuring safety of people.
Justice Thakur concurred with the 2008 verdict of the Delhi High Court which had awarded one year jail terms to Sushil and Gopal Ansal.
However, Justice Mishra reduced the jail term to the period already served in jail by Sushil considering his age and enhanced the sentence of Gopal to two years.
After that the matter of deciding the quantum of sentence came up before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, which later referred it to the current bench.
The matter had come up for hearing on April 21, but was adjourned at the request of senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao, the counsel for Ansals.
The court is hearing cross-appeals filed by CBI, AVUT and the Ansals challenging the Delhi High Court order.
Fifty-nine people, trapped in the balcony of the theatre, died of asphyxia following the fire and over 100 got injured in subsequent stampede on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Bollywood film "Border".