Transfer Petition – Judgememt
An open letter to Delhi from the families of the 59.
On June 13, 1997 we sent our two children Ujjwal and Unnati to the movies at Uphaar Cinema in New Delhi. A few hours later, we brought their bodies home. The next day we performed their last rites. We were not alone. Fifty seven others lost their lives that day. They too, were innocent victims.
Eighteen long years have gone by as we – the families of the 59, have waited for justice. On the 19th of August, 2015, The Supreme Court of India finally confirmed that the owners of Uphaar Cinema, Sushil and Gopal Ansal, were responsible for these deaths and should serve the maximum sentence of two years rigorous imprisonment for their crime. However, after just 5 and 4 months in jail, the brothers were able to walk free by paying a small penalty, a drop in the ocean of their Rupees 900 crore business empire.
We have waited eighteen years for justice. But the Ansal brothers were able to walk away after just a few months in jail. Have any lessons been learnt? Has justice been served? How do we ensure that no more lives are lost because of pure greed and recklessness?
These are some of the questions we want to ask on September 12, the day we #RememberUphaar. Come join us at 5pm as we meet peacefully at Jantar Mantar to protest. Help us find justice for our loved ones and make our city safe again.
Let us know you are coming – tweet us at @Neelamshekhar or email at email@example.com
We are grateful and touched by hundreds of letters of support and to everyone who is spreading the word. You are creating a powerful movement for change. Come join us on September 12.
Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy
Parents of Unnati & Ujjwal
On behalf of the families of the 59
Order dt 19.8.2015 Uphaar : Link to Supreme Court order in the Uphaar case.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal
Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Delhi
Subject: Urgent request from AVUT in connection with Supreme Court Judgement dated 19.08.2015 pronounced on sentencing in the Uphaar fire tragedy case.
Dear Shri Kejriwal,
We write to you with an urgent request and with the hope that you will find time from your hectic schedule to give my request the consideration it deserves. For purposes of introducing AVUT, we will be brief. The Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy ® (AVUT) was formed in the aftermath of the worst man-made disaster that struck Delhi on June 13th1997 at Uphaar cinema. The tragedy, which resulted in the loss of 59 innocent lives brought 28 families together not only to share their grief but also to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again. We have dedicated our lives to fighting an arduous legal battle seeking justice for the 59 lives that were snuffed out in this man made disaster.
You would have probably heard that after making the victims of the terrible Uphaar tragedy wait for justice for eighteen long years, the highest court in the land has done us a gross injustice by permitting the convicted Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, to go scot free by paying a price of 60 crores to the Delhi Government, ostensibly for the construction of a trauma centre in Delhi NCR.
Sir, 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 he/she is convicted, payment of a penalty of 1 crore per life taken will ensure that he/she can go scot-free.
The Supreme Court has ordered that the Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal pay a sum of 60 crores to the Government of Delhi, but I request that as Chief Minister of Delhi, you should consider refusing to accept this money. This is nothing but blood money, stained with the blood of the 59 innocent lives that perished in the Uphaar fire for no fault of theirs. Accepting this money will send the dangerous message to thousands of government employees that they can indulge in corrupt practises, and permit unlawful activities to flourish in the capital, because ultimately they will be rewarded with crores of rupees for their misdemeanour. You may recall that authorities and employees of various licensing agencies such as Delhi Vidyut Board, PWD, MCD and DFS were held responsible for the Uphaar fire along with the Ansals. They will now receive a reward of 60 crores for the licenses they issued against all rules and regulations, and which resulted in the death of 59 people. We urge you to not accept this tainted reward, and support us in our fight to provide the country with safer public places. We fought this battle knowing that it could not bring back our loved ones, but could only make concerned individuals and agencies accountable for maintaining safety in public places. You had promised us a safer, corruption-free Delhi when you joined office as Chief Minister. We hope you will stand by this promise and accept our request.
We would be happy to provide any details or information you may require and can be contacted on the following numbers:
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.
AVUT PRAYER MEET: 18th DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF VICTIMS OF THE UPHAAR FIRE
Saturday, 13th June, 2015 AT 9 a.m.
VENUE: “SMRITI UPAVAN”- GREEN PARK EXTENSION, OPP.UPHAAR CINEMA.
To mark the 18th 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 .
- One year and three months since Ansals were convicted by the Supreme Court on 5th March 2014 , order on sentencing is still awaited .To our knowledge it is unprecedented that an order on sentencing remains pending for over a year after conviction.
- Charges framed in the Tampering of Evidence matter pertaining to 2003 against Sushil Ansal , Gopal Ansal and 5 others u/s 409,109,201 & 120B IPC by Ld. CMM Patiala House Court on 31.05.2014. A year later only one witness has been examined.
- Appeal to the Government of India to bring in a new legislation to deal with man-made disasters pending for past 6 years .
- We at AVUT still await judicial closure.