The CBI on Tuesday charged the accused in the Uphaar Fire Tragedy with turning the cine complex into "a veritable death trap waiting to happen" by systematically disregarding safety rules and introducing critical structural deviations in the building.
"Brazen disregard of cinematographic rules—a standard of what society considers 'due care'—and systematic flouting of safety rules amounts to criminal negligence," CBI counsel and former Solicitor General Harish Salve said as he opened the final arguments in the nine-year-old case.
He submitted before Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal that Uphaar owners, Sushil and Gopal Ansal, were "primarily responsible" for the illegal use of the property over the years in connivance with authorities concerned.
Salve based his contentions on expert reports from various quarters like MCD, Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), PWD and CFSL, all of which he read out in the court.
Quoting from these reports, Salve argued that the accused had "sacrificed safety and space for profit".
"They (victims) were not gratuitous visitors but those who came for your gain. Your only responsibility was the compliance of the law," Salve said.
The second-floor balcony in which 59 people were asphyxiated to death was "overcrowded" by an addition of another 52 seats, the counsel said quoting a PWD report filed shortly after the tragedy.
An eight-seater box was covering the exit passage in the balcony and a nodal gangway was reduced in such a way as to restrict passage, he added.