Uphaar victims’ kin want stiffer sentences

March 3rd, 2008 - 8:46 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) pleaded to the Delhi High Court Monday to take up on priority basis their appeal to increase the sentences of those found guilty in the 1997 Uphaar theatre fire tragedy. However, the court said it would hear the plea only after it has heard the arguments from the convicts challenging their sentencing.

Appearing on behalf of AVUT, senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi told the court to take up the matter but Justice H.R. Malhotra adjourned the hearing for the time being since the day-to-day-hearing of the pleas filed by those convicted is proceeding in the court.

Last week, senior counsel for Sushil Ansal Ram Jethmalani began the arguments stating that his client was willing to hike the compensation to the families of victims. The arguments will resume March 10.

AVUT had last year moved a petition before the court seeking increased punishment instead of the two-year jail sentences awarded to Gopal and Sushil Ansal, owners of the Uphaar theatre where a fire on June 13, 1997, left 59 people dead and many injured.

The petition was filed days after the Ansal brothers were given two-year jail sentences by a trial court, but got bail from the high court. They were found guilty of causing death due to negligence.

Seven others, R.K. Sharma, N.S. Chopra, Ajit Chowdhary (Uphaar managers), Manmohan Unniyal (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.

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