Ansals willing to hike compensation to Uphaar victims

February 29th, 2008 - 9:04 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the Delhi High Court Friday that his client real estate tycoon Sushil Ansal was innocent in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy and was willing to hike the compensation to the families of victims. Jethmalani started his arguments as Judge H.R. Malhotra’s court began its day-to-day hearing Friday on the appeals filed by those convicted in the case that is now more than a decade old.

The senior counsel began his arguments on an emotional note, stating that his client was sympathetic towards those who suffered in 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 further 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”.

The arguments will resume March 10.

Reacting to Jethmalani’s arguments, Neelam Krishnamurthy, convener of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) who lost two of her children in the fire, told IANS: “If my intention was to take revenge then I wouldn’t be coming to the courts for 11 years. Money is not what I want, but to seek justice for my children.”

“If I get my children back then I will pay them (Ansals) the money which they are offering,” she added.

The Ansals had earlier got a stay from the apex court to the Rs.125 million fine slapped on them, stating that they did not have the money to pay.

A city court had last year sentenced Sushil Ansal along with his brother Gopal 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.

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

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