Ansals cannot disown responsibility for Uphaar fire: CBI to court

November 10th, 2008 - 11:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Monday told the Delhi High Court that the main cause of the Uphaar fire tragedy that killed 59 people was because a gangway of the cinema hall was closed and the theatre owners, the Ansal brothers, knew about it and thus could not disown responsibility for the 1997 tragedy.The CBI concluded its arguments in the 11-year-old Uphaar fire tragedy case.

Concluding arguments in the case, CBI counsel Harish Salve argued that the main cause of the fire was the closure of the right gangway of the cinema hall.

“By closing the gangway, the Ansal brothers have violated all rules and regulations and should be prosecuted with harsher penal provisions,” said Salve before Justice S. Ravinder Bhat.

The CBI also supported the petition filed by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) demanding slapping of Section 304 (II) (causing death due to rash and negligent act with full knowledge) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on the Ansals, which would entail 10 years in jail.

Last week, the CBI had raised questions over the permission granted for extra seats in the theatre and demanded the then Deputy Commissioner Police Amod Kanth be prosecuted like the Ansal brothers for the 1997 fire tragedy.

Meanwhile, senior advocate K.T.S.Tulsi appearing on behalf of AVUT started arguing before the court. The arguments will continue Tuesday.

The trial court on Nov 20 last year held the Ansal brothers guilty along with three others under Section 304-A IPC (causing death due to rash and negligent act) and sentenced them to two years’ imprisonment.

Seven others, including two theatre managers Ajit Chowdhary and Nirmal Chopra, were convicted under Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and sentenced to seven years’ jail.

Others convicted under the same section are R.K. Sharma, Manmohan Unniyal (cinema’s gatekeeper), Brij Mohan Satija, A.K. Gera and Bir Singh (all Delhi Vidyut Board officials).

On June 13, 1997, afternoon, at least 59 people, including women and children, were killed due to asphyxia in a devastating fire that broke out in the cinema hall’s transformer in the basement during screening of Hindi film “Border”.

The Delhi High Court on Jan 4 had granted bail to the Ansal brothers and two other accused.

However, in September, the Supreme Court cancelled their bail and asked them to complete the sentence awarded to them by the trial court.

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