A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed former IPS officer Amod Kanth's plea to drop proceedings on framing of charges against him in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case, saying the accused has “no right to be heard at this stage”.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma said judicial proceedings cannot be dropped at the behest of the accused at the point of framing charges.
The court passed the order while hearing the case against Kanth, who has been booked under section 304A (causing death by rash and negligent act), 337 (causing hurt by an act which endangers human life) and 338(causing grievous hurt by an act which endangers human life) of IPC and under the Cinematography Act.
The court fixed February 2, 2013, to hear further arguments on framing charges.
On June 13, 1997, 59 people died and over 100 others were injured in the ill-fated Uphaar cinema hall during the maiden screening of Hindi blockbuster 'Border' after a fire broke out.
The former policeman had filed the plea through his counsel Dinesh Goyal saying that he was not given the opportunity to argue in the matter while the CBI and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), which has no locus standi in the matter, have already been provided such an opportunity.
Goyal argued that “if the accused has no right of hearing at this stage of framing of charges against him, then certainly the prosecution and any other party can have no such right by any stretch of imagination”.
Opposing Kanth's plea, senior counsel KTS Tulsi appearing for AVUT said "material available on record shows that serious offences punishable under section 304 of IPC is made out against the accused, so he should not be discharged in the case as he was the main architect of the whole fire tragedy”.
AVUT had opposed the clean chit given to the former police officer. It had also alleged that the CBI was trying to protect its former officer by giving an opinion that there was no negligence on his part.
The CBI had maintained there was no evidence to charge Kanth and had added that at best the retired police officer could be charged with a lesser offence under section 304 A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).