Uphaar: SC commences hearing on criminal liability
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 22:16
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday commenced hearing on the CBI's appeal challenging the Delhi High Court's decision to reduce the sentence imposed on real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal besides nine others in the 1997 Uphaar cinema tragedy that claimed the lives of 59 cine goers.

A bench of justices TS Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra asked senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appearing for the Ansals to lead evidence to prove that the theatre had sufficient exit facilities to facilitate the escape of the cine goers at the time of the fire inferno.

"You have to lead evidence to prove that the theatre had sufficient exit facilities for the victims to escape within two minutes from the carbon monoxide," the bench told the counsel during the arguments.

Opening the arguments, Jethmalani submitted that the theatre management and the Ansals were not in any way responsible for the tragedy and the entire blame, if any, has to be apportioned to the Delhi Vidyut Board.

"If anybody has to be convicted it has to be PW 40(B C Bharadwaj). He had to be convicted for the murder," he argued. Bharadwaj was a senior engineer with the now defunct DVB.

The arguments would resume next week.

The Ansals had challenged their conviction and maintained they were in no way responsible for the incident as the fire mishap they claimed was on account of the DVB transformer.

Senior counsel KTS Tulsi is appearing for The Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy (AVUT) which has been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of the victims' families.

The CBI has filed the appeal challenging the alteration in conviction and reduction of sentence by the Delhi High Court on December 19, 2008. The sentence for the Ansals was reduced to one year as against the two-year sentence imposed by the sessions court.

The high court had also acquitted five of the accused held guilty by the sessions court and reduced the sentence on four others.

According to CBI, the high court had "erroneously" altered the conviction and reduced the sentence despite the fact that the sessions court had on November 20, 2007, rightly held some of the them guilty for offences under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and the Ansal brothers under Section 304A (causing death due to rash and negligent acts) besides other sections.


First Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 22:16

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