A Delhi court rejected the Central Bureau of Investigation's report giving a clean chit to former IPS officer Amod Kanth in Uphaar cinema hall fire tragedy, saying there was sufficient evidence to prosecute him for allowing extra seats in the hall where 59 movie-watchers died in a blaze in 1997.
"The investigation report of CBI is hereby rejected. Let the summons be issued against Amod Kanth for August 20," Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjeev Kumar said. The court said there was sufficient material to prosecute Kanth under section 304A (causing death by rash and negligent act), 337 (causing hurt by an act which endangers human life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act which endangers human life) of IPC.
The court also observed that there were prima-facie evidence to prosecute Kanth under the Cinematograph Act. Reacting to the order, Neelam Krishnamurthy, President of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), said "our stand has been vindicated. It was a long overdue decision against the errant police officer."
The court had on August 9 reserved its order on a plea of AVUT seeking rejection of CBI's report absolving former IPS officer in the case. The AVUT has alleged Kanth, as the then Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police (Licensing), had allowed extra seats in Uphaar cinema hall's balcony which allegedly led to closure of exit gates, leading to the death of 59 people who were watching Hindi film Border.
Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, had said Kanth in October 1997 allowed the theatre owners to retain the extra seats and this order was in contravention of the affidavit filed by him before the Delhi High Court. Earlier, CBI, in pursuance of a Delhi High Court order, had filed a report after probing the role of Kanth and favoured his non-prosecution.
The agency, in its report, had said there was no witness to the fact that it was Kanth who had allowed the extra seats in the theatre for any consideration.