Five months after the Ansal brothers were sent to jail for destruction of evidence in the Uphaar tragedy case, the Supreme Court on Friday released them on bail.
A bench headed by Justice SB Sinha granted bail to the real estate tycoons, asking them to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each.
The court further issued notice on the cross-appeals filed by the two brothers and Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), challenging the Delhi High Court verdict holding Ansals guilty for the fire that broke out in Uphaar cinema hall on June 13, 1997, killing 59 people.
Justice Ravindra Bhat had in December last year upheld a lower court’s judgment convicting the two brothers. Justice Bhat had, however, reduced their sentence from two years to one.
At the same time he had dismissed AVUT’s plea to increase the sentence of the Ansals and convict them under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), a more serious provision than Section 304 A (rash and negligence) of the IPC under which the brothers were convicted.
On Friday, Justice Sinha’s bench made it clear to senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Sushil Ansal, that it would keep the options open for holding the two brothers guilty under Section 304 if there was sufficient evidence against them.
The Ansals were sent to jail on September 10 last year after a SC bench headed by Justice B.N. Aggarwal cancelled their bail on AVUT’s plea accusing them of tampering with evidence.
Though the appeal of the Ansal brothers was listed before Justice Aggarwal’s bench last week, the judge recused himself after learning about a letter written by Jethmalani in which he expressed reservations over appearing before the judge.
According to the letter, Jethmalani didn’t want to appear before the bench in wake of his personal views against Justice Aggrawal.
During the hearing before Justice Sinha’s court, senior advocate and AVUT's counsel KTS Tulsi expressed his dissent over the wordings of Jethmalani’s letter. Tulsi said he had serious objections to it. The bench, however, refused to entertain Tulsi’s oral plea and advised him to file a separate application with regard to the issue.