After making the victims of the terrible Uphaar tragedy wait for justice for eighteen long years, on 19th August 2015, the highest court in the land unjustly permitted the convicted Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, to escape their prison sentence by paying a price of 60 crores to the Delhi Government, ostensibly for the construction of a trauma centre in Delhi NCR. The Ansals deposited Rs 30 crore each to the Chief Secretary, Delhi Government on 9th November 2015 and the same has been accepted.
In the nineteen years since June 13, 1997, we have been hoping to get justice from the judiciary all the while undergoing further stress and trauma. Sadly, the interests of the accused seem to be of greater importance than the interests of victims.
We believe that the message sent by this sentence is one that will prove to be dangerous for the safety and welfare of the citizens of this country, and more so for the residents of Delhi. Instead of imposing punitive measures on the convicts, the order actually gives convicts and criminals the option of paying a price for their freedom. By this logic the rich and powerful in the corporate sector who own most public spaces like multiplexes ,hospitals, shopping malls, schools could take hundreds of lives, secure in the knowledge that even if they are convicted, payment of a penalty of 1 crore per life taken will ensure that they can go scot-free. We have waited nineteen years for justice. But the Ansal brothers were able to walk free after just a few months in jail. With this judgement of the Supreme Court how do we ensure that no more lives are lost because of pure greed and recklessness?
Though the Supreme Court allowed an open court hearing of the Review Petition on 6th January 2016 it has still not been taken up or scheduled for hearing. Since the matter was not being listed, AVUT mentioned the matter in the court of Hon’ ble Chief Justice on 17th March 2016 for an early hearing. CJI assured the counsel appearing for AVUT that the review plea would be listed for hearing after the Holi vacation. As the matter was not listed after the Holi vacation AVUT mentioned the matter again on 19th April 2016. The court said it would consult the concerned judges of the bench and explore possibility of listing and hearing the plea during upcoming summer vacation. Unfortunately no orders have been passed.
We at AVUT sincerely hope that justice would be done so that there is a judicial closure for the victims’ families.