Source: Inhouse illustration
Source: Inhouse illustration

Ansals' plea to suspend jail term: HC seeks police stand

One-liner: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response from Delhi Police on pleas by real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal seeking suspension of their seven-year jail term awarded for tampering with evidence in the 1997 case of Uphaar cinema fire which had claimed 59 lives.

Ansals' plea rejected: On Dec 3, Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil had rejected Ansals' plea to suspend their conviction and jail term in the evidence tampering case by a magisterial court and refused to release the convicts on bail.

  • Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioners, assailed the sessions court order and argued that the seven-year-term exceeded the maximum punishment that could be granted in the case
  • He said the sentencing was on a wrong legal premise and emphasised that even in the main case, the petitioners were sentenced to a 2-year jail term by the SC which subsequently released them on payment of Rs 30 crore fine each after taking into account the prison time they had done.

Need to know: While dismissing Ansals' plea for suspension of sentence till the appeal against the conviction by a magisterial court is decided, the sessions court had said that the case was one of the gravest of its kind.

  • It had also said the offence appeared to be the outcome of a calculated design on the part of the convicts to interfere with the course of justice
  • Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), had opposed the appeals and told the court that the offence of tampering was against the entire criminal justice system

Agony of victims cited: The Delhi police had also opposed the appeals field by Ansals and told the sessions court that it would trigger the mental trauma and agony of the victims.

Background: 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 matter would be heard next on Jan 6.