Two persons accused of threatening the chairperson of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) in 2007 on Saturday sought an “unconditional apology” from her before a Delhi court. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass posted the matter for June 6 for hearing after AVUT chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy said she needed time to contact her lawyer before taking a decision on the plea moved by the accused – Praveen Shankar Sharma and Deepak Kathpalia.
Krishnamoorthy, who lost two minor children in the Uphaar fire tragedy and has been fighting a legal battle for justice on behalf of the victims’ families for the last 20 years, had claimed in her complaint that she and her husband were harassed by the accused persons inside the Patiala House court premises on the evening of May 10, 2007, when they were emerging out of the court room.
Krishnamoorthy had gone to the court for attending the trial proceedings in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case. Kathpalia and Sharma were accused of passing lewd remarks against her and clicking her photographs.
The trial court had earlier taken cognisance of the offence against the four accused, including real estate barons
Sushil and Gopal Ansal, under relevant penal provisions. However, later the high court first stayed and then quashed the case against the Ansals.
Meanwhile, the court directed the Ansals and five others to appear before it in an alleged case filed against them for allegedly tampering of evidence in the fire tragedy case. Besides the Ansals, the other accused in the 2006 case were Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra and Dinesh Chandra Sharma. All the accused have denied the allegations against them.
On February 9, the Supreme Court in the curative petition had sentenced Gopal Ansal to jail for a year in connection with the blaze. However, the bench had spared 77-year-old Sushil Ansal because of his age. It had also upheld the fine of Rs 30 crore each imposed on the duo and had said the money should be utilised to set up up a trauma centre.
Following this, Gopal Ansal had approached the Supreme Court seeking modification of its order on the grounds of parity, saying he was 69 years old and would suffer irreparable damage to his health if sent to prison. It was dismissed and Gopal Ansal surrendered before the Tihar Jail authorities on March 20.
Fifty-nine people, trapped in the balcony of the theatre in South Delhi, had died of asphyxia following the fire and over 100 were injured in the subsequent stampede on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Bollywood film “Border”.