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Home > News > PTI

Court allows Ansals to get Uphaar

September 12, 2003 18:47 IST

The Delhi high court on Friday ordered the release of Uphaar Cinema hall to the Ansals within one month of the conclusion of defence evidence in the criminal case pending trial at Patiala House.

The direction came from Justice Kapoor on Ansal brothers' plea for releasing Uphaar cinema hall, where 59 people were killed in a fire during the screening of Hindi blockbuster Border in June 1997.

Justice Kapoor, however, said if the trial court wanted to inspect Uphaar 'for the purpose of properly appreciating the evidence' it shall do it within the said one-month period.

"The trial court shall not only take the decision whether the local inspection of the site of offence is required for the purpose of properly appreciating the evidence but also visit and inspect the scene, if it decides so, within one month of conclusion of defence evidence," the high court said.

Justice Kapoor also directed the trial court that in case it decided to inspect Uphaar, it 'shall prepare a memorandum of relevant facts observed at such inspection' and give copies of the same to the prosecution, victims' association and the accused persons free of cost.

The Uphaar Cinema hall shall be released to its owners -- Ansals-- 'after the aforesaid one-month period,' the court said.

Justice Kapoor clarified that the directions were issued 'to avoid any prejudice of any kind to any of the parties as to the result of the trial on account of the release of the premises'.

Earlier, the court had reserved its order on Aug 5 after hearing senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and K T S Tulsi, representing the Ansal brothers and the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy respectively.

The Ansal brothers had challenged a trial court order rejecting their application for Uphaar's release.

The Ansals, who have been ordered to shell out Rs 12 crore as compensation to the fire victims by a special bench, want to dispose of Uphaar in order to meet their liability arising out of the April 24 order.

Tulsi had contended that the cinema hall being the most important evidence in the criminal case relating to the fire tragedy, it should be preserved for the trial court to inspect at 'an appropriate stage'.

Maintaining that it was the discretion of the trial court to decide at what stage it would like to inspect the site of the tragedy, he had argued, "It would be better if the inspection is done at the end of the recording of the evidence."

On the other hand, Jethmalani had argued that inspection, if any, has to take place at the beginning of the trial and the building could not be kept sealed for long. The court could order video recording of Uphaar and the same could be used by it to appreciate evidence, he had suggested.

The CBI had adopted Tulsi's arguments as an Additional Solicitor General, who had to argue the matter, failed to appear before the court despite several adjournments.


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