NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on pleas of CBI and the victims' body seeking review of the 2015 verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy case asking real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine.
The probe agency and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) have sought review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months. The convicts have already paid the fine.
A three-judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel reserved the judgement on the review pleas after hearing two-hour-long arguments, advanced by counsel for CBI, AVUT and Ansal brothers.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for CBI, said the fines are imposed additionally and they cannot substitute "substantive" jail term awarded to convicts in a case.
"Fine in lieu of conviction is alien in criminal jurisprudence," he said, noting that while hearing the appeals against the high court verdict, the apex court had ordered "substantive conviction" by saying that the fine imposed can be "only be additional".
"Enhancement of sentence, subject to fine, is erroneous in law," Salve said.
Taking note of the submission, the bench said, "If you (Salve) are right in the first point we will not have to go any further."
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Ansal brothers, said the core issue was the sentence which comprised both jail term and fine.
"This long saga must come to an end. Four more months of jail term will not make much difference," he said.
Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, said that the waiver of remaining jail term on payment of fines was not justified.
59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie 'Border' in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997.
Over 100 were also injured in the subsequent stampede.