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Uphaar Tragedy Timeline: 20 Years And The Hullabaloo Around Courts And Laws

59 people die of asphyxia in a fire in south Delhi's Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi movie "Border" in 1997.

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Uphaar Tragedy Timeline: 20 Years And The Hullabaloo Around Courts And Laws
File PTI Photo by Kamal Singh
Uphaar Tragedy Timeline: 20 Years And The Hullabaloo Around Courts And Laws
outlookindia.com
2017-02-09T15:19:36+05:30

The Supreme Court today gave verdict on the infamous Uphaar tragedy that killed 59 people and injured 100 in 1997, sentencing the owner Gopal Ansal to jail for a year and ordering him to undergo remaining seven months as well. The SC, however gave relief to elder brother Sushil Ansal considering his advanced age by giving him the jail term already undergone by him, including the remission, in the case.

20 years long wait and a verdict that was termed as 'disappointing' by the victims' families, the timeline of the tragedy goes as followes

  • June 13, 1997: 59 people die of asphyxia in a fire in south Delhi's Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi movie "Border". Over 100 were injured in subsequent stampede.
  • July 22: Uphaar theatre owner Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav arrested in Mumbai.
  • July 24: Probe transferred from Delhi Police to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
  • Nov 15: CBI files charge sheet against 16 accused including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal.
  • March 10, 1999: A sessions court presided by L D Malik initiates trial.
  • Feb 27, 2001: Court frames charges against accused under various sections, including sections 304 (culpable homicide), 304 A (causing death by negligent act) and 337 (hurt) of the IPC.
  • May 23: Recording of prosecution witnesses' testimony begins.
  • April 4, 2002: The Delhi High Court asks trial court to try to wrap up the case by December 15.
  • Jan 27, 2003: Ansals' plea seeking re-possession of the theatre rejected on the ground that place of incident is to be preserved to appreciate evidence.
  • April 24: The Delhi High Court awards Rs 180 million compensation to be paid to relatives of victims.
  • Sept 4, 2004: Court starts recording statements of accused.
  • Nov 5, 2005: Recording of testimonies of defence witnesses begins.
  • Aug 2, 2006: Court concludes recording of testimony of defence witnesses.
  • Aug 9: Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal inspects the theatre.
  • Feb 14, 2007: Accused start advancing final arguments.
  • Aug 21: Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) approaches the Delhi High Court seeking conclusion of trial within a time frame.
  • Aug 20, 2007: Senior advocate Harish Salve appears for CBI and advances final arguments.
  • Aug 21: Judgement reserved. Court fixes September 5 for pronouncement of verdict.
  • Sep 5: Court defers pronouncement of verdict and says it would fix the date of judgement on October 22. (MORE) Oct 22: Court fixes November 20 as the date of verdict.
  • Nov 20, 2007: Court convicts all 12 accused, including Sushil and Gopal Ansal, in the case and sentences them to two years' imprisonment.
  • Jan 4, 2008: HC grants bail to Ansal brothers.
  • Sep 11: Ansals sent to Tihar Jail after SC cancels bail.
  • Nov 17: HC reserves order on appeals by Ansals, other accused, CBI and AVUT.
  • Dec 19: The Delhi HC upholds trial court order convicting Ansal brothers but reduces sentence from two years to one year. Upholds conviction of six out of 12 accused.
  • Jan 30, 2009: SC issues notice on AVUT's petition for enhancement of sentence of Ansal brothers and alteration of charge; also issues notice on Ansals' plea against conviction.
  • 2009: CBI files appeal in SC seeking enhancement of sentence of Ansals.
  • Apr 17, 2013: SC reserves order on appeals of Ansals, CBI and AVUT.
  • Mar 5, 2014: SC upholds conviction of Gopal and Sushil Ansal. However, two judges differ on sentence. Justice T S Thakur awards one-year jail term, while Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra sentenced them to the period undergone. Matter referred to three-judge bench.
  • Apr 21, 2015: The new bench couldn't start hearing.
  • Aug 11, 2015: Hearing begins on quantum of sentence.
  • Aug 19, 2015: SC allows Ansals to walk free, asks them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each.
  • Aug 20: SC declines CBI's plea for further hearing in the case, asks it to file review plea.
  • Aug 25: SC modifies order; restores 2-year jail term of Ansals if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each within 3 months.
  • Sep 23: SC reasons Aug 19 order, says the "magnitude" of the case "calls for a higher sentence" but the court has to limit itself to the choice available under the law.
  • Nov 6: CBI and AVUT seek review of verdict saying SC did not give time to put views forth which resulted in miscarriage of justice.
  • Nov 20: SC refuses to entertain plea filed against HC order quashing criminal case against Ansals for allegedly threatening the AVUT President.
  • Jan 8, 2016: SC agrees to give an open court hearing on review petitions of CBI and AVUT.
  • Dec 5, 2016: Ansal brothers assure SC that they will not leave India till hearing on review pleas commences.
  • Dec 6: SC seeks Ansals' reply on review pleas.
  • Dec 14: SC reserves order on review pleas.
  • Feb 9: SC sends Gopal Ansal to one-year in jail, but gives relief to elder brother Sushil considering his advanced age by giving him the jail term already undergone by him.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

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