On the 18th death anniversary of the 59 innocent lives who perished in the terrible Uphaar Fire Tragedy on June 13, 1997 it is with deep pain and despair that we inform our well-wishers that despite following the case relentlessly for the last eighteen years, AVUT has failed in its endeavour. As the families of the victims continue to struggle to cope with their unimaginable grief and loss, the convicts are free to carry on with their business activities as usual and enjoy life.
The judgment in the Criminal Appeal was pronounced on 5th March 2014 by the Supreme Court and pronounced the Ansals guilty. Though the judges concurred on the findings, there was dissent with regards to the sentencing and the matter was referred to a three judge bench. The primary criteria which the court has considered while sentencing is a prolonged trial the accused have faced and the delay of more than sixteen years in the conclusion of proceedings against them. It is matter of record that it was the victims who had at every stage approached the High Court for expeditious trial since the accused were delaying the proceedings by seeking frequent adjournments. Why should the accused be given the double benefits of first a prolonged trial as it is a well-known fact that it is they who seek adjournments on one pretext or the other, and then a lighter sentence on the grounds of delay. In fact delaying the trial proceedings is detrimental to the victims. Once the charge sheet is filed and cognizance is taken by the court it is the responsibility of the courts and the Prosecuting agency to expedite the trial proceedings.
It has been one year and three months since the Ansals were convicted by the Supreme Court, but the order on their sentencing is still awaited. To our knowledge it is unprecedented that an order on sentencing remains pending for over a year after conviction. In the last one year AVUT had moved three applications for early hearing. The matter was finally listed for hearing on 21st April 2015 but we were outraged when once again when the matter was adjourned at the request of the Ansals. How long will we continue to be the victims of this adjournment culture?
While the accused in our country manage to get an early hearing and also get relief, the victims continue to suffer. Even though the country is supposed to be heading for ‘Achhe Din’ under the leadership of our Prime Minister, it seems there will never be any ‘Achhe Din’ for Uphaar Victims unless they get justice for their loved ones
If our Prime Minister really wants us to be proud Indians let him take steps to improve the Justice delivery system. We as bereaved families are definitely not proud Indians when, despite our best and most sincere efforts, the state has failed us in its duty to provide justice for the victims of the Uphaar tragedy in the last two decades.