Uphaar fire tragedy: SC dismisses plea, real estate baron Gopal Ansal to serve jail term

By: | Updated: March 9, 2017 2:21 PM

In its hearing today, the Supreme Court has dismissed Gopal Ansal's plea to let him off with the sentence that he has already undergone in parity with elder brother Sushil Ansal in Uphaar fire tragedy case.

The victims’ have also opposed Gopal Ansal’s plea saying the review pleas of CBI and AVUT have already been decided and “there cannot be a review of the review judgement”. (Reuters)

In its hearing today, the Supreme Court has dismissed Gopal Ansal’s plea to let him off with the sentence that he has already undergone in parity with elder brother Sushil Ansal in Uphaar fire tragedy case.  The case pertains to the plea of real estate baron Gopal Ansal seeking extension of time to surrender for serving one-year jail term in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case in which 59 persons had died during the screening of Hindi movie ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi today said, “The appeal filed by Gopal Ansal is dismissed”. With the apex court dismissing his plea, Gopal Ansal will have to serve the remaining period of the one-year sentence. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, representing Gopal Ansal, told a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha that the apex court had on February 9 asked Gopal to surrender within four weeks and the time would expire today. Jethmalani said he would not be available on March 9 and 10 as he has to go to Pune for teaching assignment and the bench can fix Gopal’s appeal for hearing immediately after the reopening of the apex court post-Holi vacation on March 20.

The senior counsel had earlier said as the time to surrender would expire today, the bench can extend it. “We know that the period is expiring. It is very unlikely that we (two-judge bench) will extend it. The matter has been earmarked and fixed before a different combination (of judges), so this combination cannot pass any order on extending the time,” the bench had said earlier.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in a 2:1 majority verdict on February 9, had granted relief to 76-year-old Sushil Ansal considering his advanced age-related complications by awarding him jail term already undergone and had asked younger sibling Gopal to surrender in four weeks to serve the remaining jail term.

Besides this, the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) has moved the apex court seeking modification of the order sentencing Sushil Ansal to the period already undergone by him in jail in the case relating to the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy that had killed 59 people on June 13, 1997.

Gopal, who was in jail earlier for around four-and-a-half months, has sought the relief on the ground of parity claiming that he was 69-year-old and would suffer irreparable damage to his health if sent to prison.

The plea has said “his body and health are more brittle than that of his elder brother”.

In its application, Neelam Krishnamoorthy-led AVUT has said both Sushil and Gopal Ansal are healthy and should be sent to jail to serve the remaining sentence in the case.

“No evidence or material was ever placed on record, either in the course of the appeals or the review petitions, by Sushil Ansal that suggests that he is having any medical complication(s),” the association has said in its application.

The victims’ have also opposed Gopal Ansal’s plea saying the review pleas of CBI and AVUT have already been decided and “there cannot be a review of the review judgement”.

(With PTI Inputs)

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