SC Grants Par­tial Re­lief to An­sals in Uphaar Case

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @ times­

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thurs­day re­mit­ted the jail term of Sushil An­sal in the 1997 Uphaar the­atre tragedy case cit­ing his age, but sent younger brother Gopal An­sal back to the prison to com­plete the re­main­ing part of his one- year term.

The broth­ers had spent about five­and-a-half months each in jail and that pe­riod would be set off against the one-year term in Gopal An­sal’s case. They have al­ready de­posited .₹ 30 crore each, as or­dered by the court. The money will go to­wards build­ing a trauma cen­tre at Dwarka in Delhi for vic­tims of fire ac­ci­dents.

Nearly five dozen peo­ple had died in the fire in the the­atre, blamed on the neg­li­gence of the own­ers, the An­sals. The trial court sen­tenced them each to two years in jail on the charge of caus­ing death by neg­li­gence, but the Delhi High Court re­duced that to one year each.

On ap­peal, a two-judge bench of the SC came out with a split ver­dict on the quan­tum of sen­tence. A three-judge bench even­tu­ally re­duced the sen­tence to the pe­riod al­ready un­der­gone by the broth­ers.

This cre­ated a furore with both the CBI and the vic­tims’ as­so­ci­a­tion seek­ing a re­view of the rul­ing and a higher jail term for the ac­cused. On re­view­ing their ear­lier de- ci­sion on Thurs­day, SC up­held the .₹ 30 crore fine im­posed on each of them as “not ex­ces­sive” but only changed its mind on the sen­tence for Gopal An­sal.

“The grav­ity of the of­fence and the il­le­gal gains made by them is such that no fine would be ex­ces­sive for the ir­repara­ble loss caused due to them,” the three-judge bench said in its 2:1 rul­ing.

“No fine would be ex­ces­sive for the ir­repara­ble loss caused due to them”

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