Six years after the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) challenged a Delhi High Court judgment directing it to a pay part of the compensation awarded to Uphaar fire tragedy victims, the Supreme Court on Thursday commenced hearing on a bunch of appeals, including that of the civic body.
MCD standing counsel Sanjeev Sen opened the arguments, contending the civic body had nothing to do with the issuing of licences to cinema halls.
Sen told a bench headed by Justice R.V. Raveendran the MCD could not be held liable to pay compensation for the lapses that led to the tragedy.
Fifty-nine people died, mostly due to suffocation, after a fire broke out at Uphaar cinema on June 13, 1997.
On a petition by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, the high court had on April 24, 2003, awarded a compensation of Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) to the relatives of victims.
Holding the Ansals, MCD, the erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board and Delhi Police licensing authority “guilty of negligence”, the HC directed the cinema owners to pay 55 per cent of the compensation.
The remaining 45 per cent would be borne equally by MCD, DVB and licensing authorities, each contributing 15 per cent.
Sen said MCD got involved in the process of issuing licenses only in 1996. However, its role was limited to inspecting cinema halls to ensure there was no structural deviation.