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Uphaar Tragedy: Supreme Court To Hear In January Next Year The Plea For De-sealing Uphaar Cinema Hall

The company and the theatre owners, had sought urgent listing of the appeal seeking release of the sealed cinema hall.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear in January next year the plea seeking de-sealing of Uphaar theatre which was shut down after 59 people died during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph was considering the plea of Ansal Theatre and Clubotels Private Ltd seeking early hearing of its petition for de-sealing of the cinema hall which was shut down by the CBI.

“This is an application for early hearing of the appeal. Let the matter be listed in the month of January, 2019 before the appropriate bench. The application is accordingly disposed of,” the bench said.

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Earlier, the apex court had declined the plea for urgent hearing of the company.

The company and the theatre owners, Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, had sought urgent listing of the appeal seeking release of the sealed cinema hall.

The CBI, which has probed and prosecuted the two owners in the case, was opposing the de-sealing and release of the cinema hall.

The agency and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), led by Neelam Krishnamurthy, were alleging that the plea seeking trial of then IPS officer Amod Kanth, who in the capacity of DCP (Licensing), had allegedly allowed retention of 37 extra seats in the theatre in 1979 in violation of the Cinematography Act, was still pending.

The release of cinema hall might lead to loss of crucial evidence that extra seats had resulted in closure of gangway leading to death of cine-goers, the AVUT had said.

The Supreme Court had on February 9 asked Gopal Ansal to serve one-year jail term while his elder brother Sushil Ansal got relief from incarceration with prison term already undergone by him.

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Fifty-nine people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in the Green Park area of south Delhi. Over a 100 people were injured in the subsequent stampede.

A two-judge bench of the apex court had on March 5, 2014 held Sushil and Gopal Ansal guilty, but differed on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to them after which the matter was heard by a three-judge bench.

The Delhi High Court on December 19, 2008 had awarded one-year jail term to both Sushil and Gopal Ansal in the case while reducing the two-year sentence imposed on them by the trial court.

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