New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to real estate magnates Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal and other convicts on a revision petition by the state challenging a trial court’s order of reducing their sentence from seven years to eight months for allegedly tampering with evidence in the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy case.
The court listed the matter for the next hearing on April 13.
Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V.K. Saxena had on Monday approved the plea for the state to approach the court and ask for prosecution of the accused for seven years.
On November 8, 2021, a Delhi court awarded seven-year jail terms to the Ansal brothers in the tampering with evidence case and imposed a fine of Rs 2,25,00,000 on each.
The rest were fined Rs 3 lakhs each.
On July 18 last year, Principal District and Sessions Judge of the Patiala House Courts upheld the order of conviction under Sections 409, 201 and 120B of the IPC passed by the trial court against the Ansals, Dinesh Chandra Sharma (Ahlmad, who was charged with tampering of a document) and P.P. Batra, except Anoop Singh as he was acquitted of all charges.
The following dat, the court passed the order on sentence and reduced the sentence of seven years to the period already undergone i.e eight months and 12 days.
“We empathise with you (AVUT). Many lives were lost, which can never be compensated. But you must understand that penal policy is not about retribution. We have to consider their (Ansals) age. You have suffered, but they have also suffered,” the judge had said.
AVUT or Association of The Victims of Uphaar Tragedy had also moved the High Court seeking enhancement of the sentence in the tampering with evidence case.
The plea said that the district judge has failed to consider that the offence of tampering is extremely serious in nature as it affects the entire criminal justice system.
The plea stated that the sessions court failed to consider that this is a case which shatters the confidence of the public at large in the criminal justice system and it requires a maximum sentence so that it works as a deterrent for others who even dream of tampering with the court record in future.
“The Ansal brothers misused the liberty granted to them in the main case and tampered with the evidence after hatching criminal conspiracy with the court staff,” stated the plea.
For the 59 victims’ families, Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost their two teenaged children formed AVUT on June 30, 1997, barely 17 days after the tragedy struck.