Real estate baron Gopal Ansal yet again failed to get immediate relief today from the Supreme Court which said it would order listing of his appeal on March 6 in the Uphaar fire tragedy case. Gopal has sought relief that he should not be asked to serve one-year jail term like his elder brother Sushil Ansal in the case of 1997 fire tragedy in which 59 people were killed.
“You file an appeal. It will be listed on Monday if there is no objection,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said when senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Gopal Ansal, submitted that the apex court Registry did not take his plea on record.
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Jethmalani also sought a relief that Gopal be granted liberty not to surrender to jail till the hearing of his appeal.
“It cannot be extended. We can’t say that he does not need to surrender in the mean time,” the bench, which also comprised Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said.
A bench, in a 2:1 majority verdict on February 9, had granted relief to 76-year-old Sushil considering his “advanced age-related complications” by awarding him the jail term already undergone and had asked younger sibling Gopal to surrender in four weeks to serve remaining one-year jail term in the 20-year-old case.
Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) led by Neelam Krishnamoorthy, had opposed the plea, saying the review pleas of the CBI and the association have already been decided and “there cannot be a review of the review judgement”.
59 persons had died of asphyxia in the Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi movie ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997.
Gopal had filed the plea seeking modification of the February 9 verdict asking him to surrender for serving a year in jail.
He had sought a relief similar to the one given to his brother, claiming that he was 69-years old and would suffer irreparable damage to his health if sent to prison. The plea had said “his body and health are more brittle than that of his elder brother.”
It had said that Gopal’s case should be treated “at par with that of his brother, accused number one Sushil Ansal upon taking on record the medical record enclosed. The petitioner at present seeks only one relief, which his brother got without being called upon to prove anything.
“If the petitioner had known that he had to establish that he too is suffering the kind of physical ailment for which the sentence already undergone has been found sufficient punishment, he would have had no difficulty in proving that his body and health are more brittle than that of his elder brother.”
The apex court had asked Gopal to surrender to serve the remaining prison term. He was in jail earlier for around four-and-a-half months.