The victims of the Uphaar cinema fire of 1997, which claimed 59 lives in Delhi, has urged the court to try the accused also for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) has urged the lower court conducting trial of the case here that Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal of the Ansal Group of Companies and three other accused should not only be tried under Section 304-A (causing death by rash or negligence act) but also under 304-A (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They are facing prosecution in the case.
As many as 59 people dies in the fire in the cinema house in south Delhi June 13, 1997.
Filing a written submission in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Mamata Sehgal, AVUT counsel KTS Tulsi said the accused had acted with gross recklessness and culpable negligence by their dogged refusal and failure to exercise reasonable care, and that made them liable not only under Section 304-A but also under Section 304.
"The death of 59 innocent persons is directly relatable to the rash and negligent acts and omissions of the accused persons. Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal had fled away from the spot when the fire had broken out knowing that there was only one exit on the left in the balcony of the hall due to closure of the gangway and the second exit on the left in violation of the rules governing the architecture of cinema halls in the Capital," the submission said.
On the plea for slapping 304 of IPC on Sushil and Gopal Ansal, former Delhi Fire Service official HS Panwar, serving Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) official Shyam Sunder Sharma and retired official of the local body ND Tewari, the judge said: "The court is vested with the power, and if it finds that there is sufficient evidence, it will take a suo motu action for framing an additional charge under Section 304 of IPC against the accused persons."
On another plea by AVUT to summon Amod Kanth, the deputy commissioner of police (licensing), as an accused in the case under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the court reiterated the above order.
Kanth, currently the Arunachal Pradesh director-general of police, had allowed the cinema management to retain 37 additional seats in the balcony in 1979 that had resulted in the closure of the gangway and the right exit in the balcony, according to the submission.