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Court urged not to suspend seven-year jail terms to Ansals, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate

Court urged not to suspend seven-year jail terms to Ansals, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate
NEW DELHI: The Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) on Monday urged a Delhi court not to suspend 7-year jail terms awarded to real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal for tampering with evidence in the 1997 case of Uphaar cinema fire which had claimed 59 lives.

The counsel for the association made the submission before Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil in response to the pleas moved by Ansals challenging the jail term awarded to them by a magisterial court on November 8.

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for the association, told the court that the offence of tampering was extremely serious in nature as it affects the entire criminal justice system.

“It is direct interference in the administration of justice and thus requires serious consideration while suspending the sentence of seven years and fine of 2.25 crore each to both the brothers,” he said.

He added that the judgement passed by the magisterial court was well reasoned and the court had dealt with each and every argument of the defence and finally had come to a conclusion that it was a case of conspiracy which was established by the prosecution.

The case is related to tampering with the evidence in the main fire tragedy case in which the Ansals were convicted and sentenced to 2-year jail term by the Supreme Court.

The apex court however released them taking into account the prison time they had done on the condition that they pay Rs 30 crore fine each, to be used for building a trauma centre in the national capital.

Pahwa further added, “Ansal brothers misused the liberty granted to them in the main Uphaar case and tampered with the evidence after hatching criminal conspiracy with the court staff. The conspiracy in this case was to tamper with the evidence collected by CBI against them in order to seek acquittal in the Main Uphaar case.”

Even the Supreme Court took this offence very seriously and cancelled the regular bail granted them after conviction, he said.

“This is a case which shatters the confidence of the public at large in the criminal justice system. If the sentence given to these rich and powerful people is suspended at such initial stage, the confidence of an ordinary men will be shattered who’s appeal and bails are pending in the court for months and years,” Pahwa said.

Besides challenging their conviction and jail term awarded by the magisterial court, Ansals have also urged the court to suspend their punishment while the pendency of the appeal.

The magisterial court also awarded 7-year-jail term each to former court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma and two others — P P Batra and Anoop Singh — and a fine of Rs 3 lakh each on the them.

The tampering was detected for the first time on July 20, 2002, and when it was unearthed, a departmental enquiry was initiated against Sharma and he was suspended.

Later, an enquiry was conducted and he was terminated from services on June 25, 2004.

The prosecution said that after the termination, the Ansal brothers helped Sharma get employment on a monthly salary of Rs 15,000.

When the case was registered, the documents of the company, where Sharma was employed post suspension, were further tampered with by its chairperson Anoop Singh.

According to the charge sheet, the documents alleged to have been tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records pertaining to repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar, minutes of Managing Director’s meetings, and four cheques.

Out of the six sets of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD’s meetings, proved beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theater at the relevant time, the charge sheet had said.

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

The case was lodged on the direction of the Delhi High Court while hearing a petition by AVUT chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy.


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