SC to dispose of Uphaar cinema tragedy case in Aug

New Delhi: Nearly 14 years after the infamous Uphaar cinema fire tragedy claimed 59 lives in the capital, the Supreme Court today posted for final disposal in August of the appeals filed by the victims and real estate tycoons Ansal brothers challenging the quantum of punishment.

A bench of Justices V S Sirpurkar and Mukundakam Sharma agreed to hear the matter on a priority basis after senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for CBI, submitted that 14 years had lapsed since the incident and it was high time the matter was taken up for expeditious disposal.

Besides the Ansal brothers, three others convicts Harsarup Panwar, Bir Singh and Brij Mohan Satija, have filed appeals challenging their conviction.

Though the bench offered to hear the matter during the summer vacation, the defence expressed its inability, prompting the bench to post the matter to August. Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani is appearing for the accused Ansal brothers--Sushil and Gopal.

While CBI and the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) have sought enhancement of punishment, the Ansal brothers have questioned the one-year sentence imposed by the High Court on December 19, 2008, as being erroneous in law.

According to the prosecution, the Ansal brothers owned Uphaar cinema hall and were in charge of the management of the theatre where 59 cinegoers were killed in a fire tragedy in 1997 during the screening of Hindi blocbuster movie "Border".