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25 years after Uphaar tragedy, why Ansal brothers are still not off the hook

New Delhi, April 23, 2022- On June 13, 1997, halfway through the screening of the Hindi film “Border”, a fire broke out in Uphaar cinema located in Green Park in south Delhi, killing 59 people and injuring over 100 in one of the worst tragedies in the country.

Many died of suffocation while several were injured during a stampede that ensued amidst the chaos. A probe revealed that the cinema hall authorities had blocked the exit doors to add more seats, leaving hardly any way for the people to escape from the fire.

Eighteen years later, the owners of the ill-fated cinema hall — Gopal Ansal and Sushil Ansal — were convicted by a Delhi Court. In the same year in August 2015, the Supreme Court allowed the Ansals to walk free and asked them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each.

In February 2017, the top court through a 2:1 majority judgement gave relief to 78-year-old Sushil Ansal, citing his “advanced age-related complications” by awarding him the jail term which he had already served. However, the Court asked his younger brother Gopal Ansal to serve the remaining one year jail term.

However, 24 years after the tragedy, the Ansal brothers were sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in the evidence tampering case. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2.25 crore on both.

Since then the brothers are serving their sentence at the high-security Tihar Jail in Delhi and also fighting the legal battle.

Two months back, on February 21, the real estate barons received another major setback as the Court rejected their plea seeking suspension of the 7-year jail term.

But even after this they have yet again appealed and the case is still going on. The Delhi High Court had directed the local Court to finish hearing the appeal by May 15 even as the Ansals had demanded more time.

As per the Court’s directions, the local Court was hearing the matter from 2-4 p.m. everyday, however, a major development has come up that may give more time to Ansal’s to put forth their appeal.

“Day before yesterday when the hearing was going on, the Judge received his transfer order. He has now been transferred to Rouse Avenue Court,” sources told.

Now, a new judge Justice Harjot Bhalla has come in place of Justice Anil Until who will hear Ansal’s plea. It is likely that the May 15 date might have to be extended now. (Agency)

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