Ansals seek hearing on their plea for de-sealing of Uphaar cinema

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) Real estate major Ansals on Monday urged the Supreme Court to hold an early hearing of their plea for the de-sealing of Uphaar cinema which was shut in 1997 after a fire during a film show in which 59 people lost their lives.

As the senior counsel Salman Khurshid appearing for Ansals urged the bench of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice D.Y.Chandrachud and Justice L.Nageswara Rao to hold the hearing on their fresh plea along with other pending matters, the bench said that they would discuss the matter with Justice Anil R. Dave who had heard the matter.

However, the court made it clear that the time available was short as Justice Dave is retiring on November 18.

Justice Dave, along with Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, had on January 8 decided to hold an open court hearing on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea seeking recall of its order letting off the Ansal brothers – Sushil and Gopal – on paying Rs 30 crore each coupled with the sentence they have already undergone for the 1997 fire tragedy in their Uphaar cinema.

The investigating agency has sought the recall of the September 22, 2015 order by which the bench of Justice Dave, Justice Joseph and Justice Goel had said that the magnitude of the Uphaar fire tragedy, in which 59 people perished on June 13, 1997 as they could not leave the burning cinema due to blocked exits, may call for “higher sentence” but it could not go beyond the choices under the law.

The CBI has contended that it did not get adequate time to argue as to why the court should not substitute the monetary fine in place of a jail sentence.

Along with the CBI, the apex court has to hear the plea by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy which too has sought the recall of the sentencing order.

The trial court November 20, 2007, had convicted Ansal brothers and others and sentenced them to two years jail each but the high court December 19, 2008 convicted them under a different section of the Indian Penal Code and reduced their sentence to one year each.