NEW DELHI: Real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal were handed seven years of jail by a court for tampering with evidence in the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy case. ‘‘After thinking over nights and nights, I have come to the conclusion that they deserve punishment,” Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma said, announcing the quantum of punishment on Monday.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2.25 crore each on the two brothers.The duo was convicted under IPC Sections 201 (tampering of evidence), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) on October 8.
The judge also held Dinesh Chand Sharma, a former court staff, and two others, P P Batra and Anoop Singh, guilty in the case. The trio was slapped with a fine of Rs 3 lakh each. The fine was imposed after analysing the income proofs submitted by the convicts.
‘‘Since no amount of compensation can alleviate the agony, trauma and the pain suffered by the family members of the victims, however, compensation in the form of money can provide some succour to them,’’ the judge said.
The verdict relates to tampering with the evidence in the main fire tragedy case in which the Ansals were convicted and sentenced to two-year jail term by the Supreme Court. The tampering was detected on July 20, 2002 following which a departmental enquiry was initiated against Sharma, who was suspended and terminated from services in 2004.
Sushil and Gopal Ansal, the owners of Uphaar theatre in Green Park, were held guilty of criminal negligence for the death of 59 people on June 13, 1997, when a fire engulfed the hall halfway through the screening of Hindi film ‘Border’. Fifty-nine people trapped inside the theatre died of asphyxiation, while 103 were seriously injured in the resulting stampede. The cinema hall has remained sealed ever since the fire tragedy.