Uphaar Cinema Fire Tragedy: Builder Gopal Ansal Living On Charity, Claims Lawyer. Request Refused

Uphaar Cinema Fire Tragedy: Builder Gopal Ansal Living On Charity, Claims Lawyer. Request Refused

Gopal Ansal was convicted in the Uphaar Cinema Fire case in 2007.

NEW DELHI: There is no getting away from jail for real estate tycoon Gopal Ansal, sentenced to a one-year jail term for the 1997 fire in Uphaar cinema fire that killed 59 people, the Supreme Court decided on Thursday.

The top court ordered him to surrender by March 20, rejecting Mr Ansal's plea that he was living on someone's charity. The CBI, which had probed the fire, contested the submission pointing that he was the managing director of a few companies. "How can he be living on charity," the CBI lawyer said.

The real estate tycoon will have to spend seven months behind bars since he had already spent four months in Tihar jail as an under trial.

Mr Ansal, 69, wanted the top court to spare him the jail term, pleading for parity with elder brother, Sushil Ansal, 77, who was convicted along with him but had been spared jail time because of his "advanced age-related complications".

Gopal Ansal had pleaded that he too was ill, his body was more brittle than his elder brother and his health would suffer irreparable damage if sent to prison.

But the Supreme Court - whose decision to let off the elder brother has already been criticised by the families of the people who lost their lives two decades back - dismissed the plea.

The Ansal brothers were convicted in this case way back in 2007 and sentenced to two years imprisonment. In 2008, the high court reduced the sentence to just one year. In 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the two-year prison term but ruled that the brothers do not have to spend any more time in jail due to their age. Instead, they were told to pay Rs 30 crore each in fine.

Last month's verdict sentencing the younger brother to jail came on a petition by the CBI that asked the top court to reconsider its decision.
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