Gopal Ansal seeks clubbing of trial in two criminal cases



New Delhi: Real estate baron Gopal Ansal, one of the convicts in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case on Saturday moved a plea in a Delhi court seeking clubbing of two other pending criminal cases against him.

Ansal, in an application filed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gautam Manan, has sought joint trials in two separate FIRs lodged, in 2006 and 2007, for allegedly fudging the judicial records of the Uphaar case and passing lewd remarks against Neelam Krishnamurthy, one of the complainants in the case, respectively.

The court, which was to hear arguments on charges against Ansals and others in the evidence tampering case, has now posted the plea for hearing on February 11.

Public prosecutor Rajeev Mohan, during arguments today, opposed the plea saying that such "unnecessary applications" hamper the proceedings and both cases cannot be tried together as they are different.

Krishnamurthy, President of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), said such pleas would delay the trial.

Ansal, in the application, said one case was filed by Delhi Police and other on the compliant by Krishnamurthy and the allegations are outcome of "similar or same transaction".

Besides Gopal, his brother Sushil, P P Batra, Har Swaroop, Anoop Singh and Dharamvir Malhotra have been made accused in the FIR lodged at Tilak Marg police station on May 17, 2006 following a direction by the Delhi High Court for the offence of tampering of evidence.

Later, Krishnamurthy filed a complaint against Gopal Ansal and others alleging that on May 10, 2007, when she was walking out of the court after attending the proceedings, some employees of Ansals clicked her pictures with "ulterior motive" and their security guards also passed "lewd remarks".

Ansal, in his application, has said that both cases are "off shoot of the main Uphaar matter and both the cases are based on the same cause of action" so it should be heard together.

If both the cases are not tried jointly then the defence of the accused shall be opened to other party, helping the prosecution to cover up their case, it said.

It further said that if both the cases will not be tried jointly, then it will gave "rise to the multiplicity of the proceedings and there are chances of conflicting of decisions by the court and the same is not in the interest of justice".

Earlier, the police had filed its charge sheet against Ansals and others saying they have "substantial" evidence against them for "tampering" with records of the 1997 fire tragedy case.

According to the charge sheet, the documents alleged to have been tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records pertaining to repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar, minutes of Managing Director's meetings and four cheques.

Out of the six set of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD's meetings, proved beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre at the relevant time, the charge sheet had said.

Sushil and Gopal Ansal, now out on bail, along with 10 others were convicted by a trial court here on November 20 last year for their complicity in the Uphaar theatre fire case in which 59 cine-goers lost their lives during the screening of 'Border' movie on June 13, 1997.

PTI