"The Supreme Court delivers justice only when there is a public outrage or a media campaign", a despondent Neelam Krishnamoorthy said as the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the curative petition filed by an association of the victims of the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case, sparing the Ansal brothers further jail term.
Ms Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the tragedy, said justice is a "luxury" which is available only to the rich and powerful in the country.
"I think this is an absolutely disappointing judgement. We are completely shattered. We thought the Supreme Court would look at the legal points raised. After so many years, as a parent, I feel that justice is a luxury which is available only to the rich and powerful in this country," she told PTI.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, and Justices NV Ramana and Arun Mishra dismissed the curative plea by the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).
"We have gone through the curative petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out... Hence, the curative petition is dismissed," the bench said in its order.
Ms Krishnamoorthy, who has been fighting the long-drawn legal battle, said there has never been a public outrage in the case, unlike the Nirbhaya gangrape-murder or the Jessica Lal murder case.
"The Supreme Court delivers instant justice when there is a public outrage or a media campaign," she said.
"Unfortunately, there has never been a public outrage in this case. I think there is no legal remedy left for us. There is an Uphaar evidence tampering case which is going on in the trial court and there also, the Ansals will use the same plea that the Supreme Court has let us off because we are old and get away," Ms Krishnamoorthy said.
Saying "justice has been denied" to the fire tragedy victims, she lamented that she has lost all hopes.
"Although I spent a quarter century in the court, I had full faith in our judiciary. I have been let down and I do not feel I will get justice.
"All I can say is the Supreme Court does not find it important to deliver justice to common citizens. Justice has been delivered in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case because of the public outrage. What happened in Jessica Lall murder case? The judgement was reversed due to the public outcry," Ms Krishnamoorthy asserted.
On June 13, 1997, halfway through the screening of Hindi film "Border", a fire broke out inside Uphaar Cinema, situated in Delhi's Green Park area. Fifty-nine people had died from asphyxiation, while over 100 others were injured in the ensuing stampede.
The top court had in August 2015 allowed the Ansal brothers to walk free and asked them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each.
On February 9, 2017, the top court had by a 2:1 majority verdict given relief to 78-year-old Sushil Ansal considering his "advanced age-related complications" by awarding him jail term which he had already served.
It had, however, asked his younger sibling Gopal Ansal to serve the remaining one year jail term in the case.
"I want to tell the common citizens if there is a crime committed against you, please ensure that you have a media campaign if you want justice in this country and more so if the accused are rich and powerful, otherwise you will never get justice in this country," Ms Krishnamoorthy added.