Uphaar fire tragedy: Court asks police to verify income of convicts in evidence tampering case

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By PTI

NEW DELHI: A court here on Friday directed Delhi police to verify by October 25 the income proof of real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal and other convicts in evidence tampering case related to the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire which claimed 59 lives.

The court, while convicting Ansals and others earlier this month, had sought their income proof to decide compensation for the victims and their kin.

Besides Ansals, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma had on October 8 also held a former court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma and two others — P P Batra and Anoop Singh, guilty in the case.

The court passed the directions on Friday after the investigating officer (IO) of the case submitted that he had approached the Income Tax Department for verification of the income proof submitted by the convicts for the last three years, but the verification report was not provided.

“IO is directed to approach the concerned Dy. Commissioner of the Ward /Circle for the said purpose and apprise him that this is a time-bound matter pursuant to directions of High Court of Delhi and verification must be done promptly,” the judge said.

The court said that the copy of the order be provided to sub-inspector Dharmender Kumar for compliance and filing of verification report by October 25, 2021, at 2 PM.

The judge had earlier said that he will hear the arguments on the quantum of punishment once the compensation was decided.

The convicts may face a maximum term of life imprisonment.

The fire had broken out at Uphaar Cinema during the screening of the Hindi film ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997, claiming 59 lives.

The Ansals were convicted and sentenced to a two-year jail term in the main case by the Supreme Court.

It released them however taking into account the prison time they had undergone on the condition that they pay Rs 30 crore fine each, to be used for building a trauma centre in the national capital.

Two other accused, Har Swaroop Panwar and Dharamvir Malhotra, died during the trial.

The court had accepted the arguments by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for the complainant Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), that Ansals and Panwar hatched a criminal conspiracy for the destruction of the most vital piece of evidence collected by the CBI against them in the main case.

The case was lodged on the direction of the Delhi High Court while hearing a petition by AVUT chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy.

The tampering was detected for the first time on July 20, 2002, and a departmental enquiry was initiated against Dinesh Chand Sharma.

He was suspended and terminated from services on June 25, 2004.

Out of the six sets of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD’s meetings, proved beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre at the relevant time, the charge sheet had said.



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