Uphaar fire tragedy: SC dismisses plea to extend jail term for Ansal brothers

The two brothers who owned the theatre had been convicted in the case since victims died in the fire mainly because of blocked exits

Uphaar fire tragedy, Ansal brothers, Sushil Ansal, Gopal Ansal, jail term, sentence, Supreme Court, Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, AVUT, Neelam Krishnamoorthy, curative petition
Real estate barons Sushil Ansal (left) and Gopal Ansal (right) were allowed to walk free after paying a fine of ₹30 crore each. File photo: PTI

The Supreme Court on Thursday (February 20) dismissed the curative petition filed by an association of the 59 victims of the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case, sparing the Ansal brothers further jail term.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, and justices N V Ramana and Arun Mishra dismissed the curative plea by the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) in-chamber.

“We have gone through the curative petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out… Hence, the curative petition is dismissed,” the bench said.

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On February 9, 2017, the apex court had given relief to 78-year old Sushil Ansal by a 2:1 majority verdict considering his “advanced age-related complications” and awarded him a jail term that he had already served. It had, however, asked his younger sibling Gopal Ansal to serve the remaining one year jail term in the case.

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The two Ansal brothers, who were in the real estate business, had been allowed to walk free in August 2015 and asked to pay a fine of ₹30 crore each.

The AVUT, through its president Neelam Krishnamoorthy, had sought reconsideration of the verdict by filing the curative plea.

On June 13, 1997, halfway through the screening of Hindi film Border, a fire broke out in Uphaar Cinema, situated in Green Park area. Fifty-nine people had died of asphyxia, while over 100 others were injured in the ensuing stampede.

The two brothers — who owned Uphaar cinemas — had been convicted in the case since an investigation found that the many of the victims had died due to suffocation. A violation of construction norms, including blocked exits and gateways, had resulted in the asphyxiation of victims who couldn’t escape the fire.

(With inputs from agencies)

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