The Uphaar Cinema fire was one of the worst fire tragedies in the country. A total of 59 people lost their lives in the fire that broke out during the screening of Hindu film Border on June 13, 1997.
Uphaar Cinema fire timeline: The 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire was one of the worst fire tragedies in the country. A total of 59 people lost their lives and over 100 were injured in the fire that broke out at the cinema hall during the screening of Hindu film Border on June 13, 1997. The Uphaar Cinema was located in the Green Park area of south Delhi. The investigation was initially done by the Delhi Police and later transferred to the CBI. Uphaar Cinema owner Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal were awarded two years jail term by a local Delhi court. The final verdict in the case came in 2015 when the Supreme Court slapped a fine of Rs 30 each on Ansal brothers and reduced their jail terms to the term already undergone by them.
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the curative petition filed by the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT). The verdict was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, and justices NV Ramana and Arun Mishra.
Timeline of Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy:
June 13, 1997: Halfway through the screening of Hindi film Border, a fire broke out in Uphaar Cinema in Green Park of Delhi. 59 people lost their lives due to asphyxia. Over 100 were injured in the tragedy.
July 22: Uphaar Cinema owner Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav arrested. They were taken into custody by the crime branch of Delhi Police in Mumbai.
July 24: Case transferred to CBI from Delhi Police.
November 15: CBI files chargesheet against 16 accused. It included Sushil and Gopal Ansal.
March 10, 1999: A sessions court begins the trial.
February 27, 2001: Charged framed under sections 304 (culpable homicide), 304 A (causing death by the negligent act) and 337 (hurt) of the IPC.
May 23: Recording of prosecution witnesses’ testimony begins.
April 4, 2002: Delhi High Court asks the trial court to wrap up the case by December.
2003: Delhi High Court awards Rs 180 million in compensation to be paid to the relatives of victims.
September 2004: Court starts recording statements of the accused.
November 2005: Recording of testimonies of defence witnesses begins.
August 2006: Court concludes recording of testimony of defence witnesses.
February 2007: Accused start advancing final arguments.
August 2007: Senior advocate Harish Salve appears for CBI and judgment reserved.
September 5: Court defers the pronouncement of the verdict.
October 22: Court again defers the pronouncement of the verdict.
November 20: Verdict delivered. Court convicts all 12 accused. Sushil and Gopal Ansal were awarded two years jail term.
January 4, 2008: Delhi High Court grants bail to Ansal brothers and two other accused.
September 2008: Supreme Court cancels Ansal brothers’ jail, sent to Tihar Jail.
November 2008: Delhi High Court reserves trial court order.
December 2008: Delhi High Court upholds trial court order convicting Ansal brothers. The HC, however, reduces their sentence from two years to one year.
2009: Petition filed in the Supreme Court for enhancement of sentence. CBI also files appeal seeking enhancement
2013: Supreme Court reserves order on pleas.
2014: Matter referred to the three-judge bench after judges differ on sentence. One judge awards one year. Another sentences Ansal brothers to term already undergone.
2015: Hearing begins on the quantum of sentence. The Supreme Court also allowed Ansals brothers to walk free after paying a fine of Rs 30 crore each.
February 2017: Supreme Court sentenced Gopal Ansal to one-year jail term.
February 20, 2020: Supreme Court dismisses the curative petition filed by an association of the victims.
The 1997 tragedy was not the first instance of such a fire at the Uphaar Cinema. Earlier in 1989, a fire had broken out at Uphaar Cinema due to a fault in the substation.