Uphaar: SC commences hearing on criminal liability

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.

PTI



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

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