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Uphaar fire tragedy: Gopal Ansal sentenced to 1 year jail; Here's a timeline of events

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 9 February 2017, 14:04 IST

On 9 February, the Supreme Court sentenced real estate baron Gopal Ansal to one year jail term in connection with the Uphaar fire tragedy case.

A three judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and also comprising Justice Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar passed the order.

The review petitions of the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were dismissed by the court.

Ansal would now serve one year jail sentence of which he had already served four months.

According to the apex court ruling, the Ansal brothers, who built and operated Uphaar cinema in Delhi, are guilty of causing death due to negligence. The court added that one of them must go to jail within four weeks.

69-year-old Gopal Ansal has reportedly been given a year-long sentence, while 77-year-old Sushil Ansal will not to jail because of his age.

The judges said that Gopal has got a month to surrender and be moved to prison.

The CBI and the AVUT sought review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years of jail term if they fail to pay Rs. 30 crore each within three months. The convicts have already paid the fine.

Neelam and Sekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost their daughter Unnati and son Ujwal in the tragedy eighteen years ago, are fighting the case from lower courts to the India's highest court for the justice to the victims.

The Krishnamurthys have sought more stringent punishment so that such incidents do not happen again.

Timeline of the events:

June 13, 1997: As many as 59 people, trapped in the balcony class of the theatre, died due to asphyxia and more than 100 were injured in the subsequent stampede following a fire that broke out during the 3-6 p.m. (Matinee show) screening of Hindi movie 'Border'.

July 22, 1997: Crime branch of Delhi police arrested theatre owner Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav.

July 24, 1997: The probe was transferred from Delhi police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

November 15, 1997: CBI filed chargesheet against 16 accused including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal.

March 10, 1999: A sessions court presided by L D Malik initiated trial.

February 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 Indian Penal Code (IPC).

May 23, 2001: Recording of prosecution witnesses' testimony started.

Jan 27, 2003: Ansals' plea seeking re-possession of the theatre got rejected as the place of incident had to be preserved to appreciate evidence.

April 24, 2003: Delhi High Court awards Rs 180 million compensation to be paid to the relatives of victims.

Sep 4, 2004: Court started recording the statements of accused.

Nov 5, 2005: Recording of testimonies of defence witnesses began.

Aug 2, 2006: Court concluded recording of testimony of defence witnesses.

Aug 9, 2006: The theatre was inspected by Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Mamta Sehgal.

Feb 14, 2007: Accused start advancing final arguments.

Aug 21, 2007: Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) approached Delhi High Court and sought conclusion of trial within a fixed time frame.

Aug 21, 2007: Court fixed September 5 for pronouncement of verdict.

Oct 22, 2007: Court fixes November 20 as date of verdict.

Nov 20, 2007: Court convicted all 12 accused in the case and sentenced them to two years imprisonment.

Jan 4, 2008: Ansal brothers and two other accused were granted bail by the Delhi High Court.

Sep 11, 2008: Ansals sent to Tihar Jail after Supreme Court cancels their bail.

Nov 17, 2008: Delhi High Court reserves trial court order.

Dec 19, 2008: Delhi High Court upheld trial court order that convicted Ansal brothers. Their sentence was however reduced to one year from two years.

2009: Supreme Court issued notice on petition filed by AVUT for enhancement of sentence and alteration of charges.

April 17, 2013: Supreme Court reserves order on appeals of Ansals, CBI and AVUT

March 5, 2014: Supreme Court 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 period undergone. Matter referred to three-judge bench.

March 26, 2014: Sushil Ansal left India without Supreme Court's permission. The top court had expressed displeasure, but allowed him to stay abroad on medical grounds with an assurance to return on April 11.

August 11, 2015: Hearing begins on quantum of sentence

August 19, 2015 : Supreme Court allows Ansals to walk free after paying a fine of Rs 30 crore each.

9 February 2017: Apex Court sentenced Gopal Ansal to one year jail term in connection with the Uphaar fire tragedy case.

--With agencies inputs

First published: 9 February 2017, 14:04 IST
 
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