Nearly nine years after the Delhi High Court ordered the registration of a criminal case against 2 real estate barons and five others including a court staffer for conspiring to tamper with the evidence in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy, a city court on Friday commenced trial in the matter.
After framing charges against real estate Sushil and Gopal Ansal, and five others on June 1, 2014 — after repeated extensions on Delhi High Court’s deadline to do so — the first witness’s statement was recorded before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanangal on Friday.
After Sanjay Kumar Tomar, the witness who was a fire service official at that time, recorded his statement, the matter was posted for July 6 for further prosecution evidence.
Apart from Ansals, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, a sacked record keeper of the trial court, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar and Dharamveer Malhotra are facing trial in the case.
All seven are accused of colluding with each other to make court records related to the Uphaar fire case disappear, in which the Ansals are convicted and awaiting sentencing from the Supreme Court.
The missing documents include cheques and minutes of meetings that proved “beyond doubt” that the two brothers were handling day-to-day affairs of the cinema, contrary to their stand in the court.
In 2013, the HC had directed the trial court to “endeavor” to expedite the case after Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) through its convener Neelam Krishnamurthy appealed, citing inordinate delay in the matter.