Apex court ticks off CBI for not acting on Ansal arrest warrants (Lead)

August 22nd, 2008 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Ticking off the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for delaying the arrest of the Ansal brothers, the Supreme Court Friday ordered the probe agency to promptly arrest the real estate tycoons for allegedly misusing their stay outside jail to delay disposal of their appeals against conviction in the 1997 Uphaar theatre fire tragedy.A bench of Acting Chief Justice B.N. Agrawal ordered the arrest of Sushil and Gopal Ansal while reprimanding CBI for delaying the execution of bailable arrest warrants issued by the bench against the two brothers Aug 13.

A person arrested on the basis of bailabale warrant is entitled to procure bail from the police or an investigative agency on furnishing a personal bond.

The bench, which also included Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice J.M. Panchal, asked CBI to file its report to the court by Thursday after executing the arrest warrants against the two brothers.

The bench had Aug 13 issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the Ansals and their two former employees, Uphaar theatre managers Ajit Chaudhary and N.S. Chopra, on a plea that while out on bail after their conviction, they were manipulating the judicial system and causing the Delhi High Court to delay disposal of their appeals against conviction.

The bench had issued the arrest warrants on a lawsuit by Neelam Krishnamurthy, the president of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).

The two brothers, along with some of their employees and government officials, were convicted last November for the Uphaar theatre fire tragedy, in which 59 people were killed and over 100 others injured June 13, 1997.

As the matter came up for hearing and the bench wanted to know the follow up action on its Aug 13 order, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for (AVUT), informed the court that the CBI was yet to execute the arrest warrants against the Ansal brothers.

At this, the CBI counsel pleaded that the arrest warrants issued against the Ansal brothers reached them only Friday morning, and they needed time to execute them.

This prompted counsel Sushil Kumar for the two theatre managers to tell the court that the arrest warrant issued against his clients had been executed.

At this, another senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for AVUT and referring to an ongoing prosecution of the Ansals for allegedly destroying trial court records related to the Uphaar fire tragedy case, contended that they have been “manipulating every tier of judiciary”.

This left the bench wondering if the apex court registry faulted in promptly issuing the arrest warrants against the Ansal brothers.

“We will haul them (registry) up as well, if they have floundered in promptly issuing the warrant,” the bench remarked.

Meanwhile, the CBI also moved the apex court seeking cancellation of the suspension of sentences of the two former Uphaar theatre fire managers.

The two mangers were sentenced to seven years in jail. The sentences, however, had been suspended earlier by the Delhi High Court, pending disposal of their appeal against their conviction.

Admitting the plea, the bench issued notices to the two managers, seeking their response to the plea.

The two Ansal brothers were each sentenced to two years in jail on charges of committing murderous lapses or criminal negligence that led to the tragedy. They too have their sentences suspended by the high court, pending disposal of their appeals.

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