Ansals blame transformers for Uphaar fire tragedy

March 10th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Real estate tycoon brother Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal cannot be prosecuted for the fire tragedy in the Uphaar cinema hall a decade ago as it was caused by a faulty transformer, their lawyer Ram Jethmalani argued before the Delhi High Court Monday. Resuming the inconclusive arguments before Justice H.R. Malhotra, Jethmalani stated that the Ansal brothers are innocent and the real cause of the fire was a Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) installed at the theatre.

“The fire was caused due to the transformer installed in the premises of the cinema hall,” he argued.

He added that even the maintenance of the transformer was not his clients’ responsibility. “Moreover, the cause of death was suffocation due to the fire and the Ansal Brothers cannot be blamed for that,” Jethmalani said.

The arguments will continue March 14.

As many as 59 people died due to asphyxia in the cinema hall fire while over 100 were injured in a subsequent stampede June 13, 1997.

In an earlier hearing, the lawyer hinted at increasing the amount of compensation to the families of the victims of the tragedy.

“My client is innocent and was wrongly framed in the case. At the time of the tragedy, he was not even the director of the cinema hall. It is the managers who were actually responsible and are now moving scot-free,” argued Jethmalani.

He contended that his client was ready to pay more to the families of the victims if that could ease their pain.

“I am ready to pay more compensation to them, but grabbing media attention is not fair on their part,” Jethmalani stated while adding that whipping up media reaction would be a “miscarriage of justice”.

A city court had last year sentenced the Ansal brothers to two years in jail for causing death by their negligent act.

Seven others Radha Krishan Sharma, N.S. Chopra, Ajit Chowdhary (Uphaar managers), Manmohan Unniyal (the cinema hall gatekeeper), Brij Mohan Satija, A.K. Gera and Bir Singh (all Delhi Vidyut Board officials) were held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and jailed for seven years.

Three others - two Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials S.S. Sharma and N.D. Tiwari, and Delhi Fire Service official H.S. Panwar - were also given two years in jail each but were granted bail, like the Ansals.

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