Supreme Court issues arrest warrants against Ansal brothers

August 13th, 2008 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday issued warrants for arrests of real estate tycoons Sushil Ansal and his brother Gopal Ansal on a plea for cancellation of their bail, which was granted after their conviction in the June 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy here. A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the Ansal brothers and two others on a plea that out on bail after their conviction, they were manipulating the judicial system and causing the Delhi High Court to delay the disposal of their appeal against their conviction.

The tragedy claimed 59 lives, while over 100 people were injured during the maiden show of the Hindi film “Border” on June 13, 1997 in the Uphaar theatre in south Delhi.

Terming the tragedy as “not an ordinary case”, the bench also issued notices to them seeking their response as to why their bail should not be cancelled.

The bench asked petitioner Neelam Krishnamurthy, the president of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, to submit to it the certified copies of various orders of the high court related to the proceedings on the Ansal brothers’ appeal.

The bench also sought from Krishnamurthy the certified copies of the high court business schedules for the dates the Ansal brothers’ appeal had been slated for hearing.

The bench summoned the high court records to ascertain whether the high court has been giving “due priority” to dispose of the appeal by Ansal brothers.

The bench sought the high court records after the petitioner’s counsel K.T.S. Tulsi submitted that despite its initial order to dispose of the Ansal brothers’ appeal within six months, the high court has not been able to do so.

Tulsi said the high court was hearing the matter for more than six months and held over 20 hearings but none of them lasted beyond 20 minutes as the Ansal brothers’ counsel sought adjournment on one pretext or another.

At this the apex court bench observed: “This case has taken 10 years in trial court. It cannot be treated as an ordinary case. This was a clear case of criminal negligence. Priority ought to have been given to its hearing so that people can have confidence in judiciary.”

On Tulsi’s submission that the Ansal brothers were taking repeated adjournments, the bench said, “The system should not be allowed to suffer and nobody should be allowed to manipulate it.”

“The petitioner has to produce the certified copy of the high court orders (to enable this court) to ascertain as to in what manner the case is proceeding.”

On Tulsi’s submission that he might face difficulty in producing the certified copies of the high court’s orders, the bench directed the high court registrar to give him the requisite copies of the orders.

Earlier, Tulsi submitted that as per the evidence adduced in the high court, a clear case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder or unintentional killing had been made out against the Ansals.

Yet the trial court convicted them on charges of committing criminal negligence, which entails a maximum of two years’ jail, while the charges of unintentional killing entails imprisonment of up to 10 years.

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