The Delhi High Court Thursday refused to stay the trial in a case related to alleged tampering with the evidence of the 1997 Uphaar tragedy case in which real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal were convicted and sentenced to two-year jail term by the Supreme Court.
The high court was hearing a plea by Sushil Ansal seeking to cross examine the investigating officer of the evidence tampering case on the ground of change of counsel representing him.
Justice Yogesh Khanna, who heard the submissions of the counsel for the parties on the plea, listed the matter for further hearing on September 14.
I am not going to give any stay order on this, the judge said, on a prayer made by Sushil Ansal's counsel that the trial in the case is at its final stage before a district court and it be stayed.
Senior advocate N Hariharan, representing Sushil Ansal, submitted that the trial court has disposed of his plea under section 311 (power to summon material witness or examine a person present) of the CrPC and said he was seeking one more opportunity to cross examine the investigating officer.
The plea was opposed by Delhi Police which said the trial is at its final stage as the prosecution and defence evidence has already been closed and the lower court is presently hearing final arguments on behalf of the accused.
Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing the police, contended that it is part of a game that when everything will be over, Sushil Ansal will woke up and file an application.
The trial is about to conclude, opening up the entire process at this stage will not be good. Completing the trial process is also important, he said.
Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, representing Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy, also opposed the plea saying a total of 43 witness have been examined in the case and majority of them were examined by Sushil Ansal's previous counsel.
The case relates to tampering with the evidence of the main case in which Ansals were convicted and sentenced to two-year jail term by the Supreme Court.
However, the apex court had released them on the period already undergone in the jail on the condition that they pay Rs 30 crore fine each to be used for building a trauma centre in the national capital.
The Ansal brothers along with a court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma, and other individuals -- P P Batra, Har Swaroop Panwar, Anoop Singh and Dharamvir Malhotra -- were booked in the present case of allegedly tampering with the evidence.
Panwar and Malhotra died during the course of the trial.
According to the charge sheet, the documents alleged to have been tampered with included a police memo giving details of recoveries immediately after the incident, Delhi Fire Service records pertaining to repair of transformer installed inside Uphaar, minutes of Managing Director's meetings and four cheques.
Out of the six set of documents, a cheque of Rs 50 lakh, issued by Sushil Ansal to self, and minutes of the MD's meetings, proved beyond doubt that the two brothers were handling the day-to-day affairs of the theatre at the relevant time, the charge sheet had said.
The fire had broken out at the Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi film ''Border'' on June 13, 1997 claiming 59 lives.
The case was lodged on the direction of the Delhi High Court while hearing a petition by Krishnamoorthy.
The accused are charged with offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 109 (abetment), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) and 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC.
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