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Government agencies deposit compensation in Uphaar case
By a correspondent in New Delhi |
June 23, 2003 21:36 IST
Three government agencies on Monday deposited the compensation money awarded by the Delhi high court on April 24 to the victims of Uphaar cinema hall fire, which killed 59 people and injured 104.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi paid Rs.22.63 million, the Delhi Police paid Rs.21.43 million and the power utility Delhi Vidyut Board paid Rs.24.54 million.
The agencies deposited the money in the Delhi high court. It will be given to the victims after all the parties deposit their respective amounts.
In a landmark judgment, the court had awarded a compensation of Rs 200 million to the victims in a civil suit after a six-year-long legal battle.
In the ruling, judges S K Mahajan and Mukul Mudgal had held responsible the cinema owners, MCD, Delhi Police and DVB responsible for the tragedy.
The judges had pulled up the three agencies for their cavalier attitude towards safety.
The flames, sparked by a fault in a diesel-run transformer, had suffocated most of the victims, who could not escape because many of the doors were closed.
The families of adults who died in the fire are to be paid Rs 1.8 million each, while the families who lost children will get Rs.1.5 million each, the judgment said.
The judges said that the injured should be given Rs 100,000 each, adding the amount should be paid with nine per cent interest from the date the victims and their families filed the petition in the court.
The total compensation amount was put at around Rs 200 million.
The amount was to be paid within two months of the pronouncement of the judgment or the money would be recovered by the seizure of properties of the accused.
The theatre is owned by Ansal brothers -- Gopal and Sushil Ansal.
The judgment followed a petition by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, made up of family members of the victims who moved the Delhi high court on July 28, 1997.
Criminal charges against 16 accused blamed for the tragedy are being heard in a city court.
The three government bodies, according to the judgment, are to pay 15 per cent of the total amount, while the Ansal brothers have to contribute 55 per cent.
The judges said DVB, the power utility, was responsible for allowing the owners to use a faulty transformer.
The MCD, Delhi's main civic utility, was blamed for allowing shops to run from the cinema complex, which crowded the passage and created hurdles when the viewers tried to escape.
The licensing department of the Delhi Police was penalised for giving a license to the hall owners overlooking several irregularities.
The owner's of Uphaar were slammed for increasing the number of seats in the hall and for using a faulty transformer and for blocking exits. The Uphaar owners are yet to deposit the compensation money.
The victims' association counsel K T S Tulsi said it is contempt of court that the Ansal brothers have not submitted the compensation amount so far.