Free Press Journal

Uphaar: order on framing of charges on May 3


Uphaar tragedy

New Delhi: A Delhi court today reserved its order for May 3 on the issue of framing of charges against real estate barons Sushil Ansal, Gopal Ansal and five others, facing prosecution for allegedly tampering with judicial records relating to the case of 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy which killed 59 cine goers.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal fixed May 3 for pronouncing the order after hearing arguments on framing of charges by the counsel for the seven accused and the Delhi Police.

Apart from Ansals, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra and Dinesh Chandra Sharma, a sacked record keeper of the trial court, are also accused in the case.

The Delhi High Court had directed the police to register a separate case for alleged tampering of evidence on May 5, 2006, when the trial in the Uphaar tragedy case was on.

Ansals, convicted in the main Uphaar fire case, are accused of colluding with others, including a court’s record keeper, in destroying crucial judicial documents.

The documents allegedly proved that the Ansals, contrary to their claims, were the owners of the theatre at the time of the incident, the charge sheet said.

The documents said to have been tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries made immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records pertaining to repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar cinema hall, minutes of the managing director’s meetings and four cheques, the charge sheet said.

Out of the six set of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD’s meetings, prove beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre, it said.

The Ansal brothers had argued that they had already resigned from the board of directors of M/s Ansal Theatres and Clubotels Pvt Limited, which owned the cinema hall, before the fire tragedy.

Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) had earlier approached the Delhi High Court seeking speedy trial of the case, which was pending before the lower court since 2006, against Ansals and others.

AVUT convenor Neelam Krishnamurthy had told the court that despite the charge sheet having been filed in 2008, the charge is yet to be framed.

At least 59 people died of asphyxia following the fire in the basement of Uphaar cinema hall on June 13, 1997.