Uphaar fire tragedy: Supreme Court turns down CBI plea against Gopal, Sushil Ansal

The Ansal brothers, who are real estate barons, have served a jail term between four and five months during the legal wrangle.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: August 21, 2015 1:49 am


Uphaar, Uphaar cinemal hall, Uphaar cinema, Uphaar fire, Uphaar fire news, Uphaar verdict, SC Uphaar, Ansal brothers Uphaar, India news Uphaar fire tragedy happened on Friday, 13 June 1997 during the 3-to-6 pm screening of the movie Border. 59 people died in this fire. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to allow it some more time to argue for punishment against Gopal and Sushil Ansal in the 1997 Uphaar fire case, and suggested that the agency should instead file a review petition.

Eighteen years after 59 people were killed in a blaze inside the Uphaar cinema hall in New Delhi, its owners Ansal brothers, held guilty of “criminal negligence”, escaped further jail term after the court ruled a day ago that a penalty of Rs 60 crore was adequate punishment. The Ansal brothers, who are real estate barons, have served a jail term between four and five months during the legal wrangle.

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Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the CBI, mentioned the matter before a three-judge bench led by Justice Anil R Dave on Thursday. “The CBI was not given enough time. There were certain aspects that we could not argue. Give us some more time, 30 minutes or even 15 minutes,” he submitted before the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Adarsh K Goel.

Salve added, “I have been doing this case pro-bono since 2000. Please grant us 15-minutes between 3.45 and 4 pm today. If the court is not convinced, then throw us out.”

He said the Supreme Court has extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to issue any orders in the interest of justice and hence the CBI should be given one more opportunity before the detailed judgment is released.
But the bench told Salve that it has already announced the final order and it would not be proper to let the CBI argue again. “Why don’t you file a review petition against the main judgment? You can raise this plea and other issues also in your review,” it told Salve.

Meanwhile, a CBI spokesperson said, “The CBI shall study the order of the Honourable Supreme Court in the Uphaar case and take a decision on the filing of review petition.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who lost her daughter Unnati (17) and son Ujjwal (13) in the June 13, 1997 incident and has been spearheading the legal battle for the victims, said that they would continue fighting against the verdict.

“If the Delhi government has any respect for a human life, it should refuse to accept the Rs 60 crore that Ansals need to pay as fine. They should send it back to the judiciary and let them decide what they want to do with it,” Krishnamoorthy added.

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  1. M
    Aug 20, 2015 at 6:04 pm
    1. R
      Aug 21, 2015 at 8:09 am
      59 people lost their lives because of negligence of the cinema owners. It took 18 years to decide that the cinema owners can pay their way out of this tragedy. Either the judges have been bought or the prosecutors are totally inept.
      1. Chittur Sivaram Ganesan
        Aug 20, 2015 at 11:43 am
        here it is to be recalled that still we follow the rules and acts as framed by british to protect them if any thing goes against them. now also the same thing has happened be it maggi or this tragedy. it is high time that we review all the laws we inerited from british and frame new one so that we can expect justice for the deprived.
        1. C
          Aug 21, 2015 at 6:56 am
          “NOT ONLY MUST JUSTICE BE DONE; IT MUST ALSO BE SEEN TO BE DONE” the first and primary rule of jurisprudence is compromised in this case. Let us not talk of others like corruption, nepotism, misuse of office, Lawyer-judges nexus etc., etc. It is shame on our system and values. Of late, a tendency has been seen in all decisions whether it is official, judicial and political that big business and so called development is virtue for all evils in our society hence come what may such industrial houses are to be protected at all costs. There is no distinction on this by Congress or BJP from political cl and followed by all and sundry political clubs from Sharad Pawar to Mulyam, Mayawati , Jayalalitha, Naidu, Jagan Reddy etc. The Judges of HC Supreme court are no exception.
          1. R
            Aug 20, 2015 at 10:24 pm
            The SC order is a disgrace. judges are more corrupt than politicians. In their lifetime they would have given some fair orders but in most cases they would be biased towards the rich and famous , their friends and relatives. The top echelons of the army are also the most corrupt.Nobody (specially the media) wants to take these authorities on.
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