SC Upholds Ansal Brothers' Conviction
The Supreme Court on Wednesday held real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal guilty in the 1997 Uphaar cinema tragedy that claimed the lives of 59 people and said they were more interested in making money than ensuring safety in their cinema halls.
A two-judge Bench, however, disagreed over the quantum of punishment to be given to them and the issue has been referred to a three-judge Bench to pronounce a final verdict on it.
While Justice T S Thakur retained the one-year jail term imposed on Sushil and Gopal Ansal by the Delhi High Court, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra reduced Sushil’s sentence considering his age but increased Gopal’s sentence to two years. Justice Misra also imposed a fine of `100 crore on the Ansal brothers to be used for the construction of a trauma centre and super-speciality hospital.
The Bench, however, was concurrent in its finding that it was the contemptuous disregard of civic laws on the part of the Ansals that led to the tragedy.
The Bench passed the order on cross appeals filed by the CBI, Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy (AVUT) and Ansals challenging the Delhi High Court order.
The CBI filed the appeal challenging the alteration in conviction and reduction of sentence by the Delhi High Court on December 19, 2008. The sentence for the Ansals was reduced to one year as against the two-year sentence imposed by the sessions court.
The CBI had contended that the high court had “erroneously” altered the conviction and reduced the sentence despite the fact that the sessions court had on November 20, 2007, rightly held some of them guilty for offences under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and the Ansal brothers under Section 304A (causing death due to rash and negligent acts) besides other sections.