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Uphaar case, HC to decide today

The Delhi High Court is set to pronounce its verdict on appeals filed by Sushil and Gopal Ansal. The owners of Uphaar cinema where 59 people were killed in 1997, were convicted by a court for causing death by negligent act.

delhi Updated: Dec 19, 2008 10:41 IST

The Delhi High Court is set to pronounce its verdict on appeals filed by Sushil and Gopal Ansal, owners of Uphaar cinema, and other convicts challenging their conviction in the trial court for a fire tragedy in the theatre that killed 59 cinegoers in 1997.

Ansals, sentenced to two-year jail term for causing death due to rash and negligent act, are presently lodged in Tihar jail following a Supreme Court's direction to complete the sentence awarded by the trial court on September 11.

Justice S Ravinder Bhat had reserved his order on November 17 after the counsel for the Ansal brothers, CBI and the victims' kin completed their arguments spanned over 26 hearings.

Appearing for the Ansal brothers, noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani had denied all allegations levelled against them and claimed his clients should not be held responsible, as they were not on the Board of Directors of the cinema hall when the incident took place.

Shifting the blame to erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board, the senior lawyer said there was no deviation carried out by them in the building. People died due to asphyxia caused by fire that started from the transformer situated in the basement of the hall.

Countering Jethmalani's arguments, CBI counsel Harish Salve had pleaded before the High Court to punish them under the stringent provisions, as they were responsible for the mishap.

The CBI had contended that the Ansal brothers, who had the financial control of the theatre, failed to correct the deviations despite having knowledge about the extra seats in the balcony and closure of all exits, except only one.