The police on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that an FIR has been lodged against real estate baron Sushil Ansal, convicted for the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire incident that claimed 59 lives, for not disclosing the criminal cases pending against him when he applied for passport in 2013.
The Delhi Police also told the court that apart from Ansal the other accused include the three policemen — two of whom retired in 2014 — who in 2013 had given a favourable verification report, despite the pending criminal cases, which led to issuance of the travel document to him.
The submissions by the police were made in an affidavit placed before Justice Najmi Waziri who had on December 17 last directed the agency to lodge an FIR against the police officers who had given Ansal a favourable verification report in 2013.
The court directed the police to file a status report within four weeks regarding its investigation in the latest FIR, which was registered on January 17, and listed the matter for further hearing on March 5.
The court also perused a report filed by the central government regarding how Ansal’s application for passport in 2018 was moved from pre-police verification status to post-police verification, and said there were some “anomalies” there which needed a another look.
It returned the report, which was placed before the court in a sealed envelope, and asked the Centre to file a revised version.
The court was hearing a plea moved by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), through its chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged criminal misconduct by passport and police officials in issuing the travel document to Ansal.
On December 17 last, the high court had ordered that an FIR be lodged against the police officers who in 2013 had given a favourable verification report to Ansal despite his non-disclosure about his conviction in the Uphaar case.
Pursuant to the direction, Delhi Police, represented by senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, filed the affidavit listing out the criminal cases pending against Ansal.
In the affidavit, police has also said that when “clear” verification report was given to Ansal in 2013, three criminal cases — including the Uphaar fire tragedy matter — were pending against him.
It said that apart from the FIR, a vigilance enquiry has been carried out against the three officers and its report is awaited.
The police has also said that as on date 11 criminal cases, majority of them of cheating, are pending investigation against the real estate baron.
Apart from that, 163 general complaints and 21 complaints to a magistrate under section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code to register an FIR are also pending against him, police has said.
A fire at Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi film ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997 killed 59 people.
Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the tragedy, has been fighting a legal battle on behalf of the victims’ families for over 20 years now.
The apex court in 2017 had asked Gopal Ansal, who was also convicted in the case, to undergo the remaining of one-year jail term in the case, while his elder brother Sushil Ansal got relief from incarceration with a prison term already undergone by him in view of age-related complications.
AVUT, represented by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, had earlier contended in court that there was a “nexus” and “conspiracy” between the regional passport office (RPO) officials, police officers and Ansal which led to the issuance of the passport to him despite being convicted in the Uphaar tragedy case.
As per rules, the passport application for new/ re-issue/ replacement of lost/ damaged passport issued by the MEA mandates the applicant to disclose whether he is involved in a criminal case or not and to produce the NOC from the court concerned in case they are involved in any criminal prosecution.
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