Free Press Journal

Uphaar fire: Trial begins for destruction of evidence



New Delhi: A court here on Friday commenced trial of real estate barons, Ansal brothers Sushil and Gopal, and five others in a case of alleged tampering with evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal recorded the statement of a prosecution witness and then fire service official Sanjay Tomar in the south Delhi cinema hall fire tragedy.

The court fixed the case for further hearing on July 6.

Delhi Police have cited around 50 prosecution witnesses to support their case.

The court on May 31 last year ordered framing of charges against the seven accused under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code. The offences include abetment of offence, causing disappearance of evidence, criminal breach of trust by public servant) and criminal conspiracy.

Theatre owners Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil Ansal, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra as well as a court employee, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, are accused of tampering with evidence in the case, pending since 2006.

On June 13, 1997, when the Bollywood film “Border” was being screened, a fire engulfed the theatre, killing 59 people and injuring over 100. The fire was sparked by a blast in a transformer in an underground parking lot in the five-storey building which housed the cinema hall and several offices.

A court on January 31, 2003, ordered an inquiry after some documents related to the Uphaar case went missing from the court record room. After an inquiry, the judge dismissed a court employee.