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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Uphaar fire: Delhi court dismisses Ansals’ plea to suspend jail term in evidence tampering case

🔴 On November 8, a Delhi court had sentenced Sushil and Gopal Ansal to seven years in prison for tampering with evidence in the case.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: December 4, 2021 2:22:56 am
Uphaar cinema owners Gopal Ansal (right) and Sushil Ansal. (file photo)

A Delhi court refused to suspend the seven-year jail sentence awarded to real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal, along with three others, for tampering with evidence in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire case, in which 59 lives were lost.

Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil dismissed an application moved by the convicts seeking suspension of the sentence, a stay on the fines imposed, and their release on bail until their appeal against the judgment does not reach a final outcome.

ASJ Antil said polluters of the judicial firmament should not be shown any leniency to maintain the sublimity of the institution and recourse faith of the general public in the administration of justice. “The offence herein appears to be an outcome of a calculated design on the part of the appellants/convicts to interfere with the course of justice,” the order read.

The court said, “Any interference in the course of justice, any obstruction caused in the path of those seeking justice, is an affront to the majesty of law and needs to be viewed seriously.”

The lawyers for the accused had asked the court to consider their old age before making a decision, to which the court said they “cannot be permitted to take benefit of their own wrongs” since they “themselves were involved in the procrastinated trial of the case”.

Additional Public Prosecutor A T Ansari, assisted by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, argued against the suspension of their sentence. They contended that the act was done by hatching a conspiracy in “a well-planned manner and colour was given to their wishes with the help of official concerned to save their skin from punishment” in the main Uphaar case.

The judge said suspending sentence at this stage will not “not only be against the established principles of criminal law but shake the confidence of general public in the judicial system”.

“It is trite to say that if the judiciary as an institution began to lose the confidence of the public, our cherished value of democracy shall come under serious threat,” the court said.

The Ansal brothers were convicted and sentenced to two years in jail by the Supreme Court. The top court had, however, released them on the period already undergone in jail on the condition that each pay a Rs 30 crore fine to be used for building a trauma centre in the national capital.

Along with the Ansal brothers, the court also held two of their employees, P P Batra, Anoop Singh, and former court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma guilty.

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