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Two Uphaar cinema employees move HC

delhi Updated: Jan 22, 2008 19:39 IST

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A Uphaar cinema manager and a gatekeeper, undergoing seven years' jail term in the 1997 fire case, on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court against a lower court verdict holding them guilty of "culpable homicide".

Justice H R Malhotra, admitting the appeals of manager Ajit Chowdhary and gatekeeper Manmohan Unniyal, issued notice to the CBI and sought its response by January 30.

The court, however, refused to suspend their jail term and said "such orders cannot be passed without hearing the other party (CBI)."

According to the CBI, Unniyal, who was manning the cinema hall's balcony gate at the time of blaze that broke out on June 13 1997, fled from the spot without unbolting the exit doors, locking several helpless victims inside.

Fifty-nine cinegoers died of asphyxia and over hundred people received injuries in the subsequent stampede, it said.

Chaudhary, convicted manager, was managing the day-to-day affairs of the the theatre, the probe agency said.

The court of Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal, on November 20, had convicted all the 12 accused, including theatre owners, Sushil and Gopal Ansal, under various provisions of the IPC.

Seven convicts-- Radha Krishan Sharma, N S Chopra, Ajit Chowdhary (Uphaar managers), Manmohan Unniyal (cinema's gatekeeper), Brij Mohan Satija, A K Gera and Bir Singh (all DVB officials-- were handed down seven years' term as they were held guilty under section 304 part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC.

While the Ansal brothers and three others were sentenced to two years' term under section 304A (criminal negligence causing death) of the IPC.