Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced Gopal Ansal to one year in jail for the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case that had left 59 dead in Delhi. While Gopal would serve six months of his remaining term, his brother Sushil Ansal, will not be going through more jail term due to his ‘advanced age.’ The top court also noted that ‘fine not enough in view of irreparable loss of lives.’\
WATCH VIDEO | Supreme Court Sentences Gopal Ansal To 1 Year Jail In Uphaar Fire Tragedy Case
Here is a timeline of the events:
June 13, 1997: 59 people die of asphyxia as a fire breaks out in south Delhi’s Uphaar cinema during the screening of the Hindi movie Border. More than 100 were injured in the subsequent stampede.
July 22, 1997: Theatre owner Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav were arrested in Mumbai by the crime branch of Delhi police.
July 24, 1997: The probe was transferred from Delhi police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
November 15, 1997: CBI files chargesheet against 16 accused including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal.
March 10, 1999: A sessions court presided by L D Malik initiates trial.
February 27, 2001: Court frames charges against accused under various sections, including sections 304 (culpable homicide), 304 A (causing death by negligent act) and 337 (hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
May 23, 2001: Recording of prosecution witnesses’ testimony begins.
April 4, 2002: Delhi High Court asks trial court to try to wrap up the case by December 15.
Jan 27, 2003: Ansals’ plea seeking re-possession of the theatre rejected on the ground that place of incident is to be preserved to appreciate evidence.
April 24, 2003: Delhi High Court awards Rs 180 million compensation to be paid to the relatives of victims.
Sep 4, 2004: Court starts recording statements of accused.
Nov 5, 2005: Recording of testimonies of defence witnesses begins.
Aug 2, 2006: Court concludes recording of testimony of defence witnesses.
Aug 9, 2006: Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Mamta Sehgal inspects the theatre.
Feb 14, 2007: Accused start advancing final arguments.
Aug 21, 2007: Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) approaches Delhi High Court seeking conclusion of trial within a fixed time frame.
Aug 20, 2007: Senior advocate Harish Salve appears for CBI and advances final arguments.
Aug 21, 2007: Judgement reserved. Court fixes September 5 for pronouncement of verdict.
Sep 5, 2007: Court defers pronouncement of verdict and says it would fix the date of judgement on October 22.
Oct 22, 2007: Court fixes November 20 as date of verdict.
Conviction and after
Nov 20, 2007: Court convicts all 12 accused, including Sushil and Gopal Ansal, in the case and sentences them to two years imprisonment.
Jan 4, 2008: Delhi High Court grants bail to Ansal brothers and two other accused.
Sep 11, 2008: Ansals sent to Tihar Jail after Supreme Court cancels their bail.
Quantum of sentence
Nov 17, 2008: Delhi High Court reserves trial court order.
Dec 19, 2008: Delhi High Court upholds trial court order convicting Ansal brothers but reduces their sentence from two years to one year.
2009: Supreme Court issues notice on petition filed by AVUT, a platform of victims’ families, for enhancement of sentence and alteration of charges. CBI too files appeal seeking enhancement
April 17, 2013: Supreme Court reserves order on appeals of Ansals, CBI and AVUT
March 5, 2014: Judges differ on sentence. One judge awards one year, another sentences Ansals to term already undergone. Matter referred to three-judge bench
August 11, 2015: Hearing begins on quantum of sentence
August 19, 2015 : Supreme Court allows Ansals to walk free after paying a fine of Rs 30 crore each