New Delhi: A former IPS officer Monday told the Delhi High Court that he cannot be tried for allegedly allowing extra seats in Uphaar cinema which proved disastrous during the 1997 tragedy that claimed 59 lives as "sanction to prosecute" him was not procured.
"If there was no sanction (to prosecute), then the metropolitan magistrate had no business to issue summons against the petitioner (Amod Kanth)," the counsel, appearing for former IPS officer, told Justice P K Bhasin.
Enumerating grounds, the lawyer said the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Delhi Police Act required that a prior sanction was "must" to prosecute a police officer for his acts done in discharge of his official duty.
"Not only that the plea (against Kanth) is hopelessly time barred as the act complained of (allowing 37 extra seats in the cinema hall) pertains to 1979 and the incident took place on June 13, 1997," he said.
"How it was time barred? The further investigation was conducted in pursuance of the judgement of the trial court (in the main case)," Justice Bhasin said.
"Only the Constitutional courts have the powers to issue such kinds of directions," the lawyer replied.
Now, senior lawyer KTS Tulsi would advance arguments on November 27 on behalf of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) which is seeking Kanth`s prosecution.
A case was registered against Kanth on the order of the court following an application moved by AVUT accusing him of allowing extra seats in the theatre in the capacity of DCP (Licencing) with the knowledge that such a decision would be disastrous during emergency like fire.
Fifty-nine cinemagoers died of asphyxia on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Hindi blockbuster "Border" as they could not emerge out of the cinema during the fire.