NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has issued a production warrant against jailed real estate baron Gopal Ansal in a case related to tampering of evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass directed that the accused be produced on August 16 noting that a lot of time has already passed and there was no strong reason for not issuing a warrant.
The Delhi High Court had on May 12 upheld a trial court order framing charges of tampering of evidence against Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil, and five others in the case for causing disappearance of evidence, criminal breach of trust by public servant and criminal conspiracy punishable under the IPC.
A court had on January 31, 2003, ordered an inquiry after some documents related to the Uphaar case had gone missing from the court's record room. After an inquiry, a court employee was dismissed from service.
The court also directed Sushil Ansal to file a response on a plea by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) that there were apprehensions that he played a fraud on the authority concerned to get his passport renewed.
It, meanwhile, put two persons -- Praveen Shankar Sharma and Deepak Kathpalia -- on trial in a separate case of alleged harassment of AVUT chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy by passing lewd remarks inside the Patiala House court premises on the evening of May 10, 2007.
Kathpalia and Sharma were then employed by the owners of the Uphaar cinema hall in the national capital.
They had earlier tendered "unconditional apology" on a piece of paper to Krishnamoorthy but they refused to get it published in leading newspapers as asked by the court.
Krishnamoorthy, who lost two children in the Uphaar fire tragedy, has been fighting a legal battle on behalf of the victims' families for the last 20 years.
In her complaint, Krishnamoorthy had said she and her husband were harassed by the accused inside the Patiala House court premises on May 10, 2007. She had gone to the court to attend the trial proceedings in the 1997 fire tragedy case.
The trial court had earlier taken cognisance of the offence against the four accused, including the Ansal brothers, under the relevant penal provisions.
Subsequently, the High Court first stayed the proceedings and then quashed the case against the Ansals.
On February 9, the Supreme Court, on a curative petition, had directed Gopal Ansal to undergo the remaining one-year jail term in connection with the tragedy. However, it had spared 77-year-old Sushil Ansal because of his age.
The apex court had also upheld the fine of Rs 30 crore each imposed on the brothers and said the money should be utilised for setting up a trauma centre here.
Following this, Gopal had approached the Supreme Court seeking modification of its order on the grounds of parity, saying he was a 69-year-old and would suffer an irreparable damage to his health if sent to prison.
The plea was dismissed and Gopal subsequently surrendered before the Tihar Jail authorities on March 20.
Fifty-nine people, trapped in the balcony of the cinema hall in south Delhi, had died of asphyxia following the blaze and over 100 were injured in the subsequent stampede in 1997 during the screening of Bollywood film 'Border'.