High court verdict in Uphaar fire case expected

December 18th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) The Delhi High Court is likely to pronounce Friday the order in the 11-year-old Uphaar fire tragedy on a review petition challenging the trial court’s verdict.Justice Ravinder Bhatt on Nov 17 reserved the order after hearing final submissions from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that probed the fire accident in which 59 ppeople were kiklled and the main accused Ansal brothers, owners of the cinema hall in south Delhi.

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

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

Both the convicts and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) had filed a review peition in the high court.

The high court on Jan 4 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.

The CBI also supported the petition filed by AVUT demanding that charges under Section 304 (II) (causing death due to rash and negligent act with full knowledge) be slapped on the Ansals, which would entail 10 years in jail.

“It’s a big relief for us. The trial court has taken 11 years to hear the case and the high court took only 26 hearings on regular basis to reserve its order. It’s amazing,” said AVUT convenor Neelam Krishnamurthy.

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

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