In an bid to avoid jail terms, Uphaar cinema owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal and 10 other convicts in the fire tragedy case on Wednesday pleaded before a court that they be released on probation or be let off after being fined.
All the 12 convicts were arguing on the quantum of their punishment before Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal, who had convicted them yesterday in the decade-old tragedy case in which 59 cine-goers were killed.
The arguments on quantum of punishment remained inconclusive today and are likely to continue tomorrow. The judge said she might pronounce the sentence on Friday.
The Ansal brothers, who were convicted for causing death by their negligent act and face a maximum imprisonment of two years, pleaded for release under the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act saying they neither did they have any criminal record nor did they pose any threat to society.
"The sole purpose of sentencing is to safeguard the society from the hazards of acts, which may be committed by the accused but in the present case, there is no such apprehension," noted criminal lawyer R K Naseem, appearing for Sushil Ansal, told the court.
The error of judgement - on the part of the convicts - was held to be act of criminal negligence but the court must consider that it was contributed by several other agencies like Delhi Vidyut Board, Delhi Fire Service and civic bodies diminishing the culpability of the convict to the minimum, Naseem argued.
"Every human life is precious and I absolutely believe in value of life," Naseem said, adding it was a fit case to release Sushil Ansal after a fine or on probation otherwise as the charges against him were not substantial in nature.
Seven other convicts held guilty under stringent penal provisions - which carry a maximum punishment of life imprisonment - also contended that the benefit of probation should also be extended to them keeping in view that they had no intention whatsoever to commit the alleged offence.