In the end, you get what you deserve. The only issue is how swift the retribution is. Till Wednesday, two of Delhi’s top businessmen — Gopal and Sushil Ansal — were lucky on the second count. They did all that they could — moved all levers of power — to roam free while the family members of the Uphaar victims struggled to come to terms with their painful memories of that fateful day. But the Supreme Court order on Wednesday changed all that.
The apex court cancelled the bail of Sushil and Gopal Ansal, owners of Uphaar cinema where 59 cinegoers were killed in a fire tragedy in 1997, for tampering with judicial records. In a hard-hitting statement, the Bench said that tampering with records is a crime worse than “murder or dacoity”. The real estate tycoons surrendered on Thursday and were sent to judicial custody for 14 days. Now, the case will go back to being heard in the High Court where the builders have challenged the guilty verdict against them.
The court order is no doubt a huge morale-booster for the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy who for years
have been struggling with their own memories as well as against the accused; and also for all those who still have some trust left in our slow and creaking judicial process. The importance of the order can be understood better if we look at what the Ansals have been accused of destroying — evidence that proves they were involved in the day-to-day running of the Uphaar cinema. By doing so, they hoped to distance themselves from the fact that they were involved in the management of the theatre. More surprisingly, crucial case documents were filed in court but went missing almost five years ago. Do we need any more evidence of the collusion between officials and the builders?
As the court order shows, their attempts have come to naught. The muck was always there, but this order has made sure that the stains will be difficult to wash away. The order will also be a handy precedent for cases that are in the pipeline but have been faltering because evidence has been tampered with.