1997 Uphaar cinema fire: Delhi Court upholds conviction of Ansal brothers for evidence tampering

District Judge Dharmesh Sharma dismissed the appeal filed by real estate barons and two others challenging their conviction by a magisterial court.

PTIUpdated: Monday, July 18, 2022, 03:15 PM IST
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A Delhi court Monday upheld the conviction of real estate tycoons Sushil and Gopal Ansal for tampering with evidence in a case related to the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire, which had claimed 59 lives.

District Judge Dharmesh Sharma dismissed the appeal filed by real estate barons and two others challenging their conviction by a magisterial court.

The court will hear arguments on the quantum of punishment Tuesday.

The court, however, acquitted one co-accused, Anup Singh, in the case and granted him bail.

A magisterial court had convicted and awarded 7-year jail terms to Ansals in the case, besides imposing a fine of Rs 2.25 crore on each of them.

Besides Ansals, the court had also awarded 7-year jail terms to former court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma and two others -- P P Batra and Anoop Singh -- and had imposed a fine of three lakh rupees each on them.

The case is related to tampering with the evidence in the main fire tragedy case in which the Ansals were convicted and sentenced to a 2-year jail term by the Supreme Court.

The apex court, however, released them taking into account the prison time they had done on the condition that they pay a Rs 30 crore fine each, to be used for building a trauma centre in the national capital.

As per the charge sheet, the documents tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records about repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar, minutes of Managing Director's meetings, and four cheques.

Out of the six sets of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD's meetings, proved beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre at the relevant time, the charge sheet had said.

It said the Ansals had taken the defence in the main case that they had no involvement in the day-to-day functioning.

The tampering was detected for the first time on July 20, 2002, and a departmental enquiry was initiated against Dinesh Chand Sharma. He was suspended and terminated from services on June 25, 2004.

The fire had broken out at the Uphaar cinema during the screening of the Hindi film 'Border' on June 13, 1997, claiming 59 lives.

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