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Uphaar case: CBI says accused playing truant

CBI has charged the main accused in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy with deliberately delaying defence evidence.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 23:10 IST

CBI has charged one of the main accused in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy in open court with "deliberately delaying" defence evidence and slackening the speedy conclusion of the almost nine-year-old trial.

Taking serious note of the CBI's submission, Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal asked accused AK Gera, then an Inspector with the Delhi Vidyut Board, whether he was "simply buying time as he had till now not taken any steps to produce his witness".

"At this point when the long trial is drawing to a close, this accused has been applying delaying tactics by not producing a single witness even after stating to do so way back in October, 2005. If this continues, the court may close the defence evidence," CBI Special Public Prosecutor YK Saxena submitted in court.

The judge brushed aside Gera's plea that he was unable to produce his witness, RC Upadhay, a former Executive Engineer with DVB, due to the lawyers' strike and said the strike does not "prevent your witness from appearing in court".

"There are other accused like RK Sharma, Nirmal Singh Chopra, Ajit Choudhary and gatekeeper Manmohan Unniyal who have changed their lawyers at this last stage and the new advocates keep asking for adjournments to 'study the case'. This is very frustrating," Neelam Krishnamurthi, mother of two victims, said.

Meanwhile, the court dismissed accused GopalGopal Ansal's application for renewal of his passport for 10 years and restricted permission to a year.

Fifty-nine persons, including 29 children, lost their lives and 104 injured in the fire that broke out in the cinema hall on June 13, 1997 during a show of the movie Border.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 23:10 IST