Uphaar fire tragedy: Sushil Ansal falsified information to get passport renewed, police tells court

By: |
June 22, 2021 5:24 PM

In its 8-page charge sheet filed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma, the police claimed that Ansal misled the government authority on oath that he has not been convicted in any criminal proceedings by any court.

The fire at the Uphaar cinema had broken out during the screening of Hindi film 'Border' on June 13, 1997 had claimed 59 lives.

Sushil Ansal, convicted in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire which killed 59 people, played a fraud on authorities by concealing information about criminal cases pending against him while getting his passport renewed, Delhi Police has told a court here in a charge sheet filed against him.

In its 8-page charge sheet filed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma, the police claimed that Ansal misled the government authority on oath that he has not been convicted in any criminal proceedings by any court.

The police claimed that regarding the passport issued in 2013 to Ansal on a ‘Tatkaal’ application, it is found that an affidavit under the Tatkaal scheme required specific deposition by the applicant to the effect that there were no criminal proceedings pending against the applicant in any court of law or that she/ he has not been convicted by any court of law for any criminal offence in past.

In 2013, this affidavit was filed by the accused Sushil Ansal along with his application and he has on oath misled the Government Authority (RPO) that he has not been convicted in any criminal proceedings by any Court, said the charge sheet, filed in February this year but has come to public knowledge only now. The matter has been adjourned for January 31, 2022.

The police also said that a supplementary charge sheet will be filed in the case soon, along with the sanctions from the authorities concerned to prosecute Ansal.

The case was lodged on the direction of the Delhi High Court while hearing a petition by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy alleging that Ansal concealed or gave false information to the authorities for renewal of his passport.

Krishnamoorthy said that it took Delhi Police more than two years since the high court’s direction to file the charge sheet despite the fact that that a detailed inquiry report by MEA was available on record. We hope that the sanction under section 15 of Passport Act is granted at the earliest, for the trial to commence. In past too Sushi Ansal has taken the advantage of delayed trial and got scot free after being held guilty for the death of 59 people. I hope this matter will be decided at the earliest, she said.

Ansal, however, surrendered his passport on August 14, 2017 because he knew that adverse orders against him may well be passed, the final report said. Sushil Ansal was fully aware of the provisions of Passport Act. He had deliberately left the relevant boxes in the application form pertaining to criminality or court proceedings unticked, it said in the charge sheet.

The police said however that during the course of investigation, no evidence came on record against the then sub-inspector who conducted the verification in 2013 of the passport of accused as he carried out the verification as per laid down procedure.

Regarding the role of RPO officials it is found that in 2013 the passport was issued as no adverse report was received from Special Branch, Delhi Police as the applicant Sushil Ansal changed the address from Panchseel Park to Feroze Shah Road and also concealed the fact of his conviction in his declaration in passport application, it said.

The charge sheet sought Ansal’s prosecution under sections 177 (furnishing false information) and 181 (False statement on oath or affirmation to public servant or person authorised to administer an oath or affirmation) and 12 (obtaining a passport by suppressing information about his nationality) of Passport Act.

Krishnamoorthy, who lost two children in the tragedy, has been fighting a legal battle on behalf of the victims’ families for the last 20 years.

It was alleged in the complaint that Ansal was getting his passport renewed every 5-10 years. As per rules, the passport application for new/ re-issue/ replacement of lost/ damaged passport issued by the Ministry of External Affairs mandates the applicant to disclose whether he is involved in any criminal case or not and to produce the NOC from the concerned court in case they are involved in any criminal prosecution.

The plea claimed that Ansal was holding two passports. The court had also noted in an order that his passport number given to the court in 2018 was different from the earlier one mentioned in 2008.

The fire at the Uphaar cinema had broken out during the screening of Hindi film ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997 had claimed 59 lives.

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