This Article is From Jan 29, 2018

Delhi High Court Seeks Details Of Uphaar Case From Trial Court

Justice Anu Malhotra, who had on January 17 asked the Registrar General of the high court to file a status report of the case, again passed a similar order as it did not receive any report.

Delhi High Court Seeks Details Of Uphaar Case From Trial Court

Uphaar Fire Tragedy: All the accused have denied the allegations against them. (File)

The Delhi High Court today sought details of a case relating to the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy, which was being heard by a lower court, on a plea by the victims' body seeking an expeditious trial in the matter.

Justice Anu Malhotra, who had on January 17 asked the Registrar General of the high court to file a status report of the case, again passed a similar order as it did not receive any report.

The court said the report with details be filed before the next date of hearing on February 5.

It sought to know the status and the number of witnesses being cross-examined in a case of alleged tampering of documents during the trial of the main case involving real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal.

The court had earlier said, "The status report of the case i.e. the stage at which the case is pending, the number of the witnesses cited, the number of the witnesses examined, the number of witnesses that remained to be examined and the number of the cases pending in the said court is called for before proceeding further, which be called for through the Registrar General, High Court of Delhi."

The case is going on before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Patiala House court here.

The Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) has sought day-to-day trial in a case related to tampering of evidence in the case.

Its counsel had earlier contended that despite charges being framed and upheld by the high court, not a single prosecution witness has been examined.

Delhi Police's counsel was also in favour of speedy trial in the matter.

A trial court had on January 31, 2003, ordered an inquiry after some documents related to the case had gone missing from the court's record room. After an inquiry, a court employee was dismissed from service.

The case is related to the tampering of a judicial file pertaining to a letter written by Vice President of Ansal Properties Industries Ltd, V K Nagpal, to the Delhi Fire Service. An FIR was registered in this regard.

"It is important to note, that even in the main Uphaar fire tragedy case, the entire trial was concluded within a period of 10 years with the intervention of this court...

"However, in the instant case, which arises out of tampering with the original court records of the Uphaar fire tragedy case, despite 10 years from the date of registration of FIR, not a single prosecution witness has been able to complete their deposition," the plea by association president Neelam Krishnamoorthy has said.

The high court had on May 12 last year upheld a trial court order framing charges of tampering of evidence against the Ansal brothers.

On June 13, 1997, a fire had broken out at the theatre during the screening of Bollywood film 'Border', killing 59 people and injuring over 100.

A magisterial court had on May 31, 2014 ordered framing of charges against seven accused for abatement of offence, causing disappearance of evidence, criminal breach of trust by public servant and criminal conspiracy under the IPC.

Theatre owners Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil Ansal, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra and Dinesh Chandra Sharma were accused of tampering with evidence in the case, pending since 2006.

All the accused have denied the allegations against them.

On February 9, 2017, 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 77year-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 a trauma centre.

Following this, Gopal Ansal had approached the apex court seeking modification of its order on the grounds of parity, saying he was 69-year-old and would suffer irreparable damage to his health if sent to prison which was dismissed and Gopal Ansal surrendered before the Tihar Jail authorities on March 20, 2017.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)