New Delhi, Feb 9: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Gopal Ansal to serve a one year jail sentence in the Uphaar fire tragedy case of 1997. Ansal had already served four months in jail. Gopal’s brother Sushil Ansal had already undergone his jail sentence.Also Read - Supreme Court to Allow Journalists Inside Courtrooms in Physical Proceedings
Meanwhile, the review petitions of the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) and the CBI were not allowed by the apex court. The CBI and AVUT had sought a review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they failed to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months. The Ansal brothers had paid the fine ordered by the court and were out of jail. Also Read - Rajasthan Revises Order; Allows Sale, Bursting Of Green Crackers With Restricted Timings
The fire that broke out during the screening of the movie ‘Border’ at the Uphaar theatre in South Delhi on June 13, 1997, had left 59 people dead. Over 100 people were also injured in the subsequent stampede. Also Read - UPSC NDA Recruitment 2021: Female Fitness Standards, Other Eligibility Criteria To be Announced Soon
The apex court had asked the Ansal brothers not to leave India till it disposes of the review pleas. AVUT had cited media reports that the convicts were “on the verge of fleeing the country”.
Neelam and Sekhar Krishnamurthy lost their teenaged daughter Unnati and son Ujwal in the tragedy and have been fighting the case in courts ever since seeking stringent punishment for the Ansal brothers. After Thursday’s sentencing by the apex court, Neelam Krishnamurthy, who is also the President of AVUT, said, “I’m extremely disappointed. I feel the biggest mistake in my life was coming to court. I’ve lost faith in judiciary today.”
She also added, “I have been let down very badly. All this was a futile exercise. It seems that the rich and powerful enjoy special powers and can get away with killing little children.” “We don’t give a damn about the trauma centre. I should’ve shot these people the day my children died,” an angry Krishnamurthy said.
In its review plea, AVUT had said, “The apex court judgement bestows an unwarranted leniency on convicts whose conviction in the most heinous of offences has been upheld by all courts including this court and sentences imposed on them have been substituted with fine without assigning any reason.”
The CBI, in its review plea, had said that the apex court did not give it time to put its views forth, resulting in “miscarriage of justice”. “Due to the paucity of time on the day on which this case was heard, the prosecution could not adequately put across the reasons why this court should not substitute jail sentence with a monetary fine. This petition also seeks to raise issue of an apparent error of law in the judgement and order of this court which has occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice,” the CBI had said in its petition.
On June 13, 1997, 59 people were trapped in the balcony class of the Uphaar theatre and died due to asphyxia while more than 100 were injured in the subsequent stampede following a fire that broke out during the 3-6 pm show of ‘Border’