Court to visit Uphaar before framing charges against Kanth
New Delhi: A judge hearing the criminal case against former senior IPS officer Amod Kanth for his alleged complicity in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy on Saturday said he would visit the place of incident before framing charges against him.
"I want to visit the spot, so that I can understand the seating arrangement (in the cinema hall) allowed by the former IPS officer," Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Sharma said without specifying the date for his visit to the theatre where 59 movie-watchers died in a blaze that occurred during the screening of Hindi blockbuster `Border`.
A case was registered against Kanth on the order of the court following an application moved by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) accusing him of allowing extra seats in his theatre`s capacity as DCP (Licencing) in the theatre with the knowledge that such a decision would be disastrous during emergency like fire.
AVUT had opposed the clean chit given to the former police officer and contended he should be prosecuted for the serious offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304 of the IPC entailing maximum sentence of life imprisonment instead of section 304(A) which stipulates lighter punishment of only up to two years jail term for causing death due to negligence.
AVUT also alleged CBI was trying to protect its former officer by giving an opinion that there was no negligence on his part.
AVUT had opposed the clean chit given to the former police officer, contending that he should be prosecuted for serious offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304 of the IPC entailing maximum sentence of life imprisonment instead of section 304 (A) which stipulates lighter punishment of only up to two years jail term for causing death due to negligence.
AVUT had also alleged that the CBI was trying to protect its former officer by giving an opinion that there was no negligence on his part.
The CBI, while denying the allegation, had maintained there was no evidence to charge Kanth and had added that at best the retired police officer could be charged with a lesser offence under section 304 (A) of IPC.
A lower court had in August 2010 rejected the CBI`s report, whih had absolved Kanth of all criminal culpability in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy.
The court had said there was sufficient material to prosecute Kanth under section 304 A (causing death by rash and negligent act), 337 (causing hurt by an act which endangers human life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act which endangers human life) of IPC.
The court had also said there was prima-facie evidence to prosecute Kanth under the Cinematography Act.
The alleged role of Kanth had come under the scanner when a trial court, while awarding varying jail terms to 12 accused, including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal in the fire case, had asked CBI to probe his alleged "acts of commission and omission" in allowing the extra seats.
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