Uphaar tragedy: HC rejects ex-IPS officer`s plea
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed the plea of former IPS officer Amod Kanth against the 2010 trial court order summoning him for allowing extra seats in Uphaar cinema hall where 59 movie-watchers died in a blaze in 1997.
Justice P K Bhasin dismissed Kanth`s argument that the former IPS officer cannot be tried for allegedly allowing extra seats in Uphaar cinema as "sanction to prosecute" him was not procured.
The court, however, said the trial court can consider the petitioner`s objection if raised by him during the trial.
"The petitioner (Kanth) could raise this issue before the trial court at the first instance instead of asking this court first to decide on the objection in the petition under section... Of CrPc. So, this objection is also left open to be considered by the trial court if it raised by the petitioner," the order said.
On a plea of Uphaar cinema victims, the trial judge had summoned Kanth on August 12, 2010.
The court also rejected Kanth`s argument that the trial judge was wrong in rejecting CBI`s closure report giving clean chit to him.
"There was no merit in this submission also since the Metropolitan Magistrate stated in the impugned order that he was rejecting the closure report qua the petitioner...So, it cannot be said that the Magistrate had not acted upon the closure report and had decided to summon the petitioner on the basis of protest of victims," Justice Bhasin said.
Further, the court also rejected his argument that the plea of victims before the magistrate is hopelessly time- barred as the act complained of pertains to 1979 and the incident took place on June 13, 1997.
While rejecting CBI`s report giving a clean chit to Kanth, the trial judge had on August 12, 2010 summoned Kanth saying "the investigation report of CBI is hereby rejected. Let the summons be issued against Amod Kanth."
The lower court had said there was sufficient material to prosecute Kanth under section 304A (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 also observed that there was prima-facie evidence to prosecute Kanth under the Cinematograph Act.
The court order had come on a plea of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) seeking rejection of CBI`s report absolving the former IPS officer in the case.
Earlier, CBI, in pursuance of a Delhi High Court order, had filed a report after probing the role of Kanth and favoured his non-prosecution.
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.
CBI, which initially did not comply with the trial court order asking it to file a report, was reprimanded by the Delhi High Court which had upheld the conviction of Ansals and others.
The High Court had, however, reduced the jail terms of Ansals from two years to one year under section 304 A (causing death by rash and negligent acts) of IPC.
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