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Uphaar case: Ansal bros' bail cancelled, told to surrender
September 10, 2008 17:16 IST
Last Updated: September 10, 2008 19:46 IST
"Tampering with judicial records is a crime worse than murder or dacoity," the Supreme Court said on Wednesday while cancelling the bail of Sushil and Gopal Ansal, owners of Uphaar cinema where 59 cinegoers were killed in a fire tragedy in 1997.
The court directed the real estate barons, who were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and granted bail later in the fire tragedy case, to surrender before ACMM at Patiala House district courts by 4 pm on Thursday.
The apex court also cancelled the bail granted to Ajit Chowdhary and Nirmal Chopra, managers of the theatre, who were awarded seven years of imprisonment in the fire tragedy case and also directed them to surrender.
A bench of Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi, which initially ordered 'forthwith arrest' of the accused, however, on the plea of senior counsel Fali S Nariman modified its order and said that the four shall surrender before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala 'latest' by Thursday.
The apex court passed the orders on the petition filed by the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy challenging the bail granted to Ansal brothers and the two other convicts by the Delhi [Images] High Court.
It also rejected the bail plea of B N Satija, a former Delhi Vidyuth Board Employee and Manmohan Unniyal, gatekeeper of the theatre.
The apex court, in the same order, also requested the Delhi High Court Chief Justice to constitute a 'appropriate' bench for hearing the appeal proceedings relating to the convictions in the fire tragedy case.
During the five-hour-long hearing, the apex court said it was not passing any detailed and reasoned order since it would prejudice the contention of the rival parties in the trial, which is pending relating to tampering of judicial records by the accused before the trial court.
According to police, the documents allegedly tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records pertaining to repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar, minutes of Managing Director's meetings and four cheques.
Out of the six set of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD's meetings, prove beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre at the relevant time, the Delhi police had earlier stated in its chargesheet before the trial court.
The apex court asked the CBI as to what action was initiated against the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (licensing) for permitting the theatre to run without a valid license.
The trial court on November, 20, 2007 had convicted Ansal brothers along with three others under Section 304-A IPC (causing death due to rash and negligent act) and had sentenced them to two years imprisonment.
Seven others including Ajit Chowdhary and Nirmal Chopra, managers of the theatre were convicted under Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
Others convicted under section 304 IPC were -- Radha Krishan Sharma, Manmohan Unniyal (cinema's gatekeeper), Brij Mohan Satija, A K Gera and Bir Singh (all DVB officials). The High Court on January 4 had granted bail to the Ansal brothers and two other accused.
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