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Uphaar case: CBI clean chit for former top cop

April 17, 2009 14:04 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation has given a clean chit to former Delhi Police officer Amod Kanth, accused of illegally allowing retention of 37 extra seats in Uphaar theatre, where a fire claimed 59 lives 12 years ago.

In an investigation report filed in a Delhi court, the probe agency said, no criminal acts were found against any of the officials of any department other than the 16 persons chargesheeted by it in the Uphaar fire tragedy case.

District and Sessions Judge I K Kochhar, after perusing the report, on Friday fixed the matter for consideration for May 13.

The trial court had on November 28, 2007 directed the CBI to investigate the role of Kanth, the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (licensing), who had allegedly allowed Uphaar theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal to retain 37 extra seats in the balcony which had led to the closure of an exit gate.

The Association of Victms of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) had sought prosecution of Kanth and other officers concerned for their negligent acts.

"The due duty was not discharged even by DCP (licensing)," the then trial court had observed, while awarding varying jail terms to 12 accused including theatre owners and real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal.

The Delhi High Court, which had on December 12, 2008 commuted two years jail term of convict Ansal brothers to one year, had directed the CBI to file the investigation report against Kanth and others in the trial court by March 15 this year.

It was alleged that Kanth had allowed Uphaar owner to retain extra seats in 1979 despite the Lt Governor withdrawing the notification which had allowed cinema hall owners across the capital to install additional seats.

The trial court had observed that the retention of extra seats in the balcony was in the violation of the Cinematograph Act, which became a cause of fire tragedy in the Uphaar theatre in 1997.

While disposing of the plea seeking prosecution of Kanth, the court had said, "CBI will be at liberty to make use of the reports and statements recorded during the trial of the case."

It had directed further investigation into the allegations vis-a-vis the officials who have been left out in its earlier probe.

"Before parting with the case, I consider it my solemn duty so that such events are not repeated in any high-rise building or public place, and direct that there should be further investigations vis-a-vis the persons who have been left out by the CBI in the earlier investigation," the Judge had said.

On June 13, 1997, 59 people, including women and children, were killed in a devastating fire that broke out in the cinema hall during screening of Hindi film Border.

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