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  Metros   Delhi  10 Feb 2017  Uphaar fire: Gopal Ansal jailed for one year

Uphaar fire: Gopal Ansal jailed for one year

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Feb 10, 2017, 2:26 am IST
Updated : Feb 10, 2017, 6:55 am IST

Court felt that Rs 30 crore fine was not sufficient in view of the irreparable loss of lives.

In August 2015, the apex court had reduced the two-year sentence to the sentence earlier undergone by both the Ansal brothers.
 In August 2015, the apex court had reduced the two-year sentence to the sentence earlier undergone by both the Ansal brothers.

New Delhi: In a 2:1 verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced Uphaar cinema co-owner 69-year-old Gopal Ansal to one year imprisonment in the 1997 Uphaar cinema tragedy which killed 59 people in the capital.

The court, while deciding to review of the earlier judgment, however, did not interfere with the punishment of five months imprisonment already undergone by his 76-year-old brother Sushil Ansal. In August 2015, the apex court had reduced the two-year sentence to the sentence earlier undergone by both the Ansal brothers.

While Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph agreed to partially review the order letting off both the Ansal brothers to the punishment already undergone by them with a fine of Rs 30 crore each, Justice Adarsh Goel was against any review of the earlier order.

Gopal Ansal, who has been asked to surrender within four weeks, will have to undergo the remaining term as the court felt that Rs 30 crore fine was not sufficient in view of the irreparable loss of lives.

While refusing to send Sushil Ansal to jail, the court considered his advanced age. Sending Gopal Ansal to jail, the bench said the fine of Rs 30 crore was not sufficient in view of the irreparable loss of lives. It said the gravity of the offence and illegal means used by him to make gains called for an enhancement of the punishment.

The petitions were filed by the CBI and Uphaar Victims Association to review the correctness of the August 19, 2015 verdict. The petitions said “the Impugned Order after having enhanced the sentence of both the accused to two years substitutes the remaining sentence to be undergone with the sentence already undergone on payment of an amount of Rs 30 crores each. This substitution of remaining sentence on payment of Rs 30 Crore has resulted in miscarriage of justice.” They pointed that the two accused had continuously violated every law on public safety for personal gain with scant regard to the safety of their patrons despite repeated warnings. That the age of the accused should not and cannot be factored in the present case as a mitigating circumstance. The incident occurred in 1997. The matter has been contested by the CBI and supported by the victim’s group vigorously.

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The trial was successfully delayed by the accused until such time as a directive was issued by the high court to speed up the trial.

It said the fire safety rules were flouted with impunity for years by the accused who are, on their own assertion, extremely affluent builders. It would be a wrong message that a tortuous trial ends in a mere monetary fine which can easily be afforded by the accused and such a monetary fine is considered adequate to meet the ends of justice and the rule of law.

They faulted the court for not granting sufficient time to put forth their arguments adequately and properly. Due to the paucity of time on the day on which this case was heard, the prosecution could not adequately put across reasons as to why this court should not substitute a monetary fine in place of a jail sentence. The accused had not followed the rules which enjoin features which would enable the public visiting such public places to evacuate with safety. The association pointed out that the apex court had not considered the fact that the accused had threatened the witnesses and this has resulted in miscarriage of justice.

Tags: uphaar cinema fire, gopal ansal
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi