New Delhi: Gopal Ansal, the real estate baron ordered to serve seven months in jail over the Uphaar cinema fire, has appealed for presidential pardon. The 69-year-old had requested the Supreme Court for time to surrender until President Pranab Mukherjee decides on his appeal but he failed to get any reprieve.
The younger of the Ansal brothers has been convicted for negligence in connection with the 1997 fire tragedy in which 59 people died. His older brother Sushil Ansal was spared a jail term on account of his age - he is 77.
Gopal Ansal was given a month's time in February to surrender by the Supreme Court. The deadline is this evening.
Today, his lawyer told the Supreme Court that the President is not available and till he makes a decision, the court should give his client more time to surrender.
The court, however, refused to grant him more time. Chief Justice JS Khehar said, "It is beyond our purview. You go and mention before the President. We can't grant time."
On March 9, his lawyer argued that Mr Ansal is old and ill and is living on charity. He also pleaded that his client's health is more delicate than his brother's and he could suffer a setback in prison.
The CBI, which had investigated the fire and brought the Ansals to book, questioned his claims. Mr Ansal, the agency said, was the managing director of a few companies and it was not possible that he was living on charity. The Supreme Court -- whose decision to let off Sushil Ansal has already been criticised by the families of those who died -- dismissed the plea.
Gopal Ansal, given a year's jail term by the court, will have to spend only seven months in prison as he has already spent four months in Tihar jail as an undertrial.