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HOURS BEFORE he surrendered before Tihar Jail authorities to undergo the remainder of his one-year sentence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case, Gopal Ansal on Monday made a last-ditch attempt to seek an extension to surrender from the Supreme Court. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, representing Ansal, mentioned the matter before Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, and pleaded that he be given some more time to surrender. Jethmalani informed the bench that Ansal has filed a mercy petition before President Pranab Mukherjee but it could not be taken up since the President was not in the country.
“This is the grossest case of injustice,” the lawyer said, as he pointed out that his client was supposed to surrender by Monday evening but he was asking for three to four more days.
But Justice Khehar turned down Jethmalani’s plea. “You should make this mentioning before the President. We cannot go into the realm of a mercy petition,” replied the CJI.
Jethmalani replied that he was not seeking the court’s order on the mercy petition but wanted the bench to ask the President to expedite the hearing. Justice Khehar said the court could not ask the President to do so.
Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who lost her daughter Unnati (17) and son Ujwal (13) in the fire, said, “Why were we not informed when this matter was being mentioned? We have a locus standi and we are not expected to know about the case through media reports,” she told The Indian Express.