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Uphaar fire: HC seeks file on plea to try ex-cop

The Centre was asked by Delhi HC to submit a file on Uphaar fire victims` plea for grant of sanction to prosecute ex-IPS officer Amod Kanth.

New Delhi: The Centre was on Monday asked by the
Delhi High Court to submit a file on the Uphaar theatre fire
victims` plea for grant of sanction to prosecute former IPS
officer Amod Kanth for allegedly allowing an extra row of
seats in the hall, leading to closure of one of its crucial

Justice Vipin Sanghi directed the counsel for Union Home
Ministry to place on record the original file by April 19.

The court passed the order after senior counsel KTS
Tulsi, appearing for the Uphaar theatre fire victims submitted
that the ministry had rejected a plea for grant of sanction to
prosecute Kanth saying the matter is sub-judice.

The lawyer said the government, in its reply to the
court, had said it did not grant sanction as prosecuting
agency CBI did not send any request for it.

The court passed the order on a plea by `Association of
Victims of Uphaar Tragedy` (AVUT) which had said the Centre
had declined their plea for granting sanction to prosecute
Kanth for allegedly allowing an extra row of seats in Uphaar
Theatre in its upper `balcony` class, leading to the blocking
of one of the crucial exits.

A total of 59 people had died in the theatre fire while
over 100 other were injured during the maiden show of
blockbuster film `Border` on June 13, 1997.

Most of the victims, who had been asphyxiated to death
due to fumes sucked by air-condition duct from the fire
triggered in a Delhi Vidyut Board transformer installed in the
basement of the hall and spewed into the theatre, were seated
in the upper-floor classes, balcony and DC, of the theatre.

The high court had on August 26 last year sought the
Centre`s stand on AVUT`s plea for grant of sanction to
prosecute Kanth in the 1997 Uphaar theatre fire case.

The 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 Uphaar
theatre fire tragedy, had asked the CBI to probe his alleged
"acts of commission and omission" in allowing the extra seats.

The CBI, which initially did not comply with the trial
court order to file a report on his role, had been reprimanded
by the HC.

The CBI subsequently submitted its report to the trial
court, giving Kanth a clean chit in the case, but the court
rejected the report and issued summons to Kanth on August 12
last year to face criminal proceedings for allegedly allowing
extra seats in the theatre.

Challenging the trial court`s order, Kanth had approached
the high court which had refused to impose any interim stay on
the trial court proceedings against him but had stopped it
from passing any judgement in the case till it (the high
court) decides Kanth`s plea challenging the proceedings
against him.

The 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 had also observed that there were prima-facie
evidence to prosecute Kanth under the Cinematography Act.