The Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy finally got to its climactic end with Ansal Brothers getting 7-yrs of jail time. The Delhi court slapped a 7-year-imprisonment term at Sushil and Gopal Ansal in their involvement in the Uphaar Cinema tragedy. The Court found that the business barons were involved in tampering with evidences that would’ve led the authorities to find out about their complicity in the fire outbreak. The Delhi court pronounced that the two accused destroyed documents, and thus, “accused deserved punishment”.
For the unversed, as many as 59 people died due to asphyxia at Delhi’s Uphaar cinema during the viewing of a Hindi film. Further, due to the subsequent stampede, hundreds of people were left injured.
As far as fire tragedies go, the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy was one of the worst tragedies that occurred in India’s recorded history. In 1997, during the showcase of Hindi film ‘Border’, a fire erupted in the South Delhi cinema Uphaar.
Due to the fire, 59 people died and hundreds were left injured after the stampede
After the initial investigation, the CBI took the case over and soon, the owners of the cinema – Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal – were slapped with 2 years of jail.
However, in 2015, the Supreme Court reduced the brothers’ jail terms and also posted a fine of Rs. 30 crores each on the brothers.
The Facts of the Matter
Business barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal have been slapped with 7 years of imprisonment. The Ansal brothers owned the Uphaar Cinema in South Delhi.
The duo was alleged to have tampered with evidences and were convicted in the matter about a month ago. The court found the Ansal brothers guilty of tampering with evidences regarding the infamous 1997 Uphaar tragedy.
After the court pronounced its judgement, the Ansal brothers were also fined with Rs. 2.25 crores each.
“After thinking for night after night..”: Court Pronounces Sentence
CMM (Metropolitian Magistrate) Pankaj Sharma was quoted in a Bar and Bench report saying, “It is a long case. Very hard to reach a decision given the complexities involved. After thinking for night after night. Court thinks accused deserve punishment. They will serve 7 years of jail time and Rs 2.25 Crore fine each on the Ansals,”
Ansals Tampered with Evidences, Crucial Documents Missing or Tampered
According to reports, the prosecutor in the case fighting for the prosecution, found out that several crucial documents were missing or were tampered with. These documents were earlier filed and seized by the Investigating Officer in the case.
During the hearing, the court pronounced that the Ansal brothers destroyed evidences that could’ve proven their complicity in the fire tragedy.
Court Claims Ansal Brothers Tampered with Evidences with ‘Meticulous Planning’
“They tampered/obliterated/torn/defaced some handpicked documents of the said case through meticulous planning in order to escape punishment by scuttling trial process and as such fiddled with our judicial system with great impunity,” the Court was quoted by Bar and Bench.
And thus, the accused were convicted of their offences under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code. The accused have been convicted under Section 1208 (criminal conspiracy), Section 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), and Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender).
A Timeline of the Infamous Uphaar Cinema Tragedy:
June 13, 1997: Hundreds are injured and 59 die due to asphyxia after a fire breaks out at Uphaar cinema.
July 22, 1997: Owner of Uphaar Cinema Sushil Ansal arrested in Mumbai.
November, 1997: Chargesheet filed against as many as 16 accused, Sushil and Gopal Ansal included.
February 2001: Charges against accused filed under sections 337, 304 and more of the IPC.
April 2003: Rs. 180 million paid by the Delhi High Court as compensation to the victims’ relatives.
November 2007: 12 accused, including Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal convicted and 2 years imprisonment given.
December 2008: Delhi upholds conviction order of Ansal brothers but reduces imprisonment to 1 year.
2008: A petition is filed by a victims’ families platform called AVUT for enhancement of sentences of the Ansal brothers.
August, 2015: SC lets Ansal brothers walk away if they pay a fine of Rs. 30 crores each.
November 2021: Ansal brothers sentenced 7 years of imprisonment and Rs. 2.5 crores fine each, for tampering with evidences.