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Uphaar tragedy: SC stays proceedings against Kanth

November 29, 2013 16:26 IST

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the trial court proceedings against former IPS officer Amod Kanth in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri also asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to file its response to the petition of Kanth in the case.

Kanth has challenged the 2010 trial court order summoning him for allowing extra seats in Uphaar cinema hall where 59 people died in a blaze in 1997.

He has moved the apex court against the order of the Delhi High Court which had refused to quash the summons issued to Kanth by a lower court in the case.

Advocates Amarendra Sharan and Somesh Jha, appearing for Kanth, said that the high court did not appreciate the plea that CBI failed to take sanction to prosecute him.

On a plea of Uphaar cinema victims, the trial judge had summoned Kanth on August 12, 2010.

The high court had dismissed his argument that he cannot be tried for allegedly allowing extra seats in Uphaar cinema as "sanction to prosecute" him was not procured.

The high court had said that the trial court can consider the Kanth's objection if raised by him during the trial.

The high court had also rejected Kanth's argument that the trial judge was wrong in rejecting CBI's closure report giving a clean chit to him.

While rejecting CBI's closure report, the trial judge had on August 12, 2010 summoned Kanth, saying, "The investigation report of CBI is hereby rejected. Let the summons be issued against Amod Kanth."

The lower court had 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 had also observed that there was prima facie evidence to prosecute Kanth under the Cinematograph Act.

The order had come on a plea of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy seeking rejection of CBI's report absolving the former IPS officer in the case.

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 alleged role of Kanth had come under the scanner when a trial court, while awarding varying jail terms to 12 accused, including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal in the fire case, had asked CBI to probe his alleged "acts of commission and omission" in allowing the extra seats.

The CBI, which initially did not comply with the trial court order asking it to file a report, was reprimanded by the Delhi high court which had upheld the conviction of Ansals and others.

The high court had, however, reduced the jail terms of Ansals from two years to one year under section 304 A (causing death by rash and negligent acts) of IPC.

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