ORDER ON CHARGE
ORDER ON CHARGE
Members of AVUT who lost 59 relatives in a fire in Uphaar cinema on Friday, June 13, 1997 have, for the past 17 years also grappled with an excruciating legal battle. After a sustained & prolonged legal battle AVUT’s stand has been vindicated when the Hon’ble Supreme Court convicted Sushil Ansal & Gopal Ansal.
The verdict of the Hon’ble Supreme court dated 5th March 2014, convicted Sushil Ansal & Gopal Ansal owners/occupiers of the cinema on the grounds that the Ansal brothers not only showed scant regard for the safety of patrons by closing the exit, putting up extra seats in the gangway for some extra money, but also endangered their safety by making structural changes in the theatre. But all these findings failed to give any concrete results to the 17 year long efforts of the families of the victims when the bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court differed on the quantum of sentence after concurring on their guilt under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code for negligent acts.
The bench referred determination of sentence to a three-judge bench .The victims will now have to await the decision of the three-judge bench.
Our courts have not learnt from their counterparts in other countries who have dealt sternly and swiftly with regard to tragedies involving human lives. In the recent judgement by an Italian court in the Asbestos case, the courts have sentenced the accused to 18 years in jail and have ordered him to pay tens of millions of Euros to local authorities and the victim’s family. The owner of the República de Cromañón nightclub in Buenos Aires was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2004 blaze that killed 194 music fans. These verdicts are in sharp contrast to the conservative judgements passed by our courts. The law is being administered by our courts for law’s sake and not for justice.
Punishment should always be proportionate to /commensurate with the gravity of the offence, and economic or social status of the accused or long pendency of the criminal trial cannot be construed as a factor for reducing the sentence.
Members of the Association hope that the larger bench would consider the enormity of the tragedy before deciding on the quantum of sentence. It is very evident from the findings of the Hon’ble Supreme Court that 59 invaluable lives were snuffed out due to wanton disregard of the statutes with the intention of making extra money rather than ensuring the safety of patrons. We also hope that the decision on the quantum of punishment is such that it would send a strong message to the occupiers & owners of public spaces that they cannot endanger human lives to fill their coffers.
We appeal to the Government of India to bring in a new legislation to deal with man-made disasters pending for past 5 years.
We at AVUT still await closure.
AVUT PRAYER MEET: 17TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF UPHAAR FIRE VICTIMS
Friday, 13th June, 2014 AT 9 a.m.
VENUE: “SMRITI UPAVAN”- GREEN PARK EXTENSION, OPP.UPHAAR CINEMA.
To mark the 17th death anniversary of the 59 precious lives lost in the Uphaar fire, the Association is holding a Havan & Shanti Path at “Smriti Upavan” opposite Uphaar Cinema, Green Park Extension, New Delhi .
BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF VARIOUS CASES-UPHAAR FIRE TRAGEDY
The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its judgement dated 5th March 2014 in the Criminal Appeal No. 597/2010 has convicted Sushil Ansal & Gopal Ansal holding them responsible for the following:
TAMPERING OF EVIDENCE MATTER
10.01.2003: CBI files an application regarding missing documents
07.03.2006: AVUT files a Crl.Misc. Application in Crl. Misc (Main Petition No. 2380/2003 in the Hon’ble High Court under section 482 of the code of criminal Procedure praying for directions for registration of a criminal case against offenders for tampering with documents in the court custody.
05.05.2006:The Hon’ble High Court passed following order:
“Delhi Police is called upon to register a case under appropriate provision of law in regard to the incident of removal/tampering with/ mutilation of the documents from the judicial records of the trial court. After the registration of the FIR, investigation shall be entrusted to an officer not below the rank of ACP who will conduct the investigation expeditiously and endeavor to conclude the same within a period three months from the date of this order. A status report shall be filed by the investigating agency before the next date of hearing i.e. 8th August 2006.”
17.05.2006: An FIR No.207/2006 is lodged by Delhi Police under Sec. 109/193/201/218/409/120B IPC under the directions of the High Court.
22.02.2007: Charge Sheet filed EOW Delhi Police in ACMM‘s Court against court Ahalmad Dinesh Chandra Sharma.
23.05.2007: Supplementary Charge Sheet filed enclosing GEQD Report of the documents seized from A Plus Security Agency
17.01.2008: 2nd Charge Sheet filed by EOW Delhi Police and following were arrayed asaccused:
1. Sushil Ansal 2. Gopal Ansal 3. H S Panwar 4. PP Batra 5. Anoop Singh
6. Col D V Malhotra
15.02.2008: Summons issued by ACMM Patiala House Court
24.02.2008: Sushil Ansal files revision against the Summoning Order in the Hon’ble High Court
28.04.2008: Gopal Ansal filed petition to be listed along with Crl Rev. 224/08 of Sushil Ansal
03.09.2010: Hon’ble Justice Murlidhar dismissed all the Petitions with following directions
“This Court does not find merit in any of the petitions. Each of the petitions is accordingly dismissed with cost of Rs.25,000/-. These costs will be paid to the State within a period of four weeks from today. The interim orders stand vacated. The pending applications are dismissed. The trial court records be returned to the concerned court forthwith together with a certified copy of this order.”
26.08.2013: AVUT filed a Criminal Writ Petition in High Court of Delhi with a prayer for expeditious trial . Hon’ble Court has directed the CMM Patiala House Courts to frame the charges or otherwise by 15th May 2014.
25.05.2014: Order reserved on framing of charges
31.05.2014: Charges framed against all seven accused u/s 409/109/201/120B IPC
NEXT DATE OF HEARING 09.10.2014
AMOD KANTH :SUMMONED AS AN ACCUSED IN UPHAAR FIRE TRAGEDY CASE.
11.02.2004: AVUT filed an application under section 319 for summoning Jt CP Amod Kanth as an accused for allowing additional seats in the balcony of Uphaar cinema in the year 1979.The addition of the seats allowed by Amod Kanth blocked the gangway on the right hand side of the balcony which was in contravention of rules. He also overlooked the closure of the right hand side exit which was in contravention of rules, which was converted into a family box. The closure of the gangway and the non-availability of the exit on the right hand side was the prime cause for the death of 59 innocent lives.
23.11.2007: The Ld Trial Judge vide its judgement ordered further investigation of the offences in terms of section 173(8) Cr PC.
19.12.2008: The Hon’ble High Court vide its Judgement observed that the evidence gathered and placed before the court showed that there were glaring lapses in the Licensing department, the MCD and DVB and directed CBI that so far as the directions given by the Trial Court are concerned CBI shall complete the task in time bound manner and report its conclusions to the trial court by 15.03.2009.
05.03.2009: CBI filed a Closure Report in the court of Ld ASJ stating that no criminal acts were found against any of the officials of any department other than the 16 persons charge sheeted in the main case.
03.06.2009: AVUT filed a protest Petition.
12.08.2010: Ld MM of Patiala House Courts summoned Amod Kanth to stand trial for the offence u/s 304A,337,338 IPC and section 14 of the Cinematograph Act.
26.08.2010: Amod Kanth approached the Hon’ble High Court for setting aside the said order on the ground that no sanction u/s 197 Cr PC has been obtained.
28.08.2012: The Hon’ble High Court set aside the application of Amod Kanth.
Amod Kanth has filed an SLP in the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the order of the Delhi High Court.
NEELAM KRISHNAMOORTHY v/s SUSHIL ANSAL & ORS u/s 188,506 & 509 IPC ( CRIMINAL INTIMIDATION & OUTRAGING MODESTY OF WOMEN)