A Delhi court today ordered framing of charges against real estate barons Sushil Ansal, Gopal Ansal and five others, facing prosecution for allegedly tampering with judicial records relating to the case of the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire which killed 59 people.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal ordered framing of charges against the seven accused under various provisions of IPC, including 109 (abatement of offence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
Besides Sushil and Gopal Ansal, the other accused in the case are Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra and Dinesh Chandra Sharma, a sacked record keeper of the trial court.
The court has now fixed the case for further hearing on October 9.
The Delhi High Court had earlier directed police to register a separate case for alleged tampering of evidence on May 5, 2006, when the trial in the Uphaar tragedy case was on.
Ansals, convicted in the main Uphaar fire case, are accused of colluding with others, including the record keeper, in destroying crucial judicial documents related to the case.
According to the prosecution, those documents allegedly proved that the Ansals, contrary to their claims, were the owners of the theatre at the time of the incident.
The documents said to have been allegedly tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries made immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records pertaining to repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar cinema hall, minutes of the managing director's meetings and four cheques, the charge sheet said.
Out of the six set of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of MD's meetings, prove beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre, the police alleged.
The Ansal brothers had earlier argued that they had already resigned from the board of directors of M/s Ansal Theatres and Clubotels Pvt Limited, which owned the cinema hall, before the fire tragedy.
Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) had earlier approached the Delhi High Court seeking speedy trial of the case, which was pending before the lower court since 2006, against Ansals and others.
At least 59 people died of asphyxia following the fire which originated in the basement of Uphaar cinema hall on June 13, 1997.