Sushil and Gopal Ansal, held guilty of “criminal negligence” in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case, have deposited Rs 60 crore with the Delhi government in adherence to the Supreme Court’s order.
Eighteen years after 59 people were killed in a blaze inside the Uphaar cinema hall, the owners had escaped further jail term because the court noted that Sushil is “fairly aged” and his younger brother deserves “parity” with him. Sushil is 75 years old while Gopal is 67.
A three-judge bench led by Justice Anil R Dave had held that the “ends of justice would meet” if the real estate barons shell out Rs 30 crore each as fine. The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Adarsh K Goel, had said the amount can be used either for the purpose of setting up a trauma centre in Delhi or to upgrade the existing ones.
Neelam Krishnamoorthy — who lost her daughter Unnati (17) and son Ujwal (13) in the June 13, 1997 incident and has been spearheading the legal battle for the victims — told The Indian Express that the Delhi government should reject the “blood money”.
Days after the verdict in August, Krishnamoorthy and two other members of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy had met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and urged him not to accept the money. Kejriwal had told them that the Delhi government would seek legal opinion on their demands and come to a considered decision, taking into account the sentiments of the victims’ families.