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Endeavour to decide case related to Uphaar fire by July 15: HC to trial court

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The has directed a lower court to make an endeavour to pronounce by July 15 next year its verdict in a matter relating to alleged tampering of documents during the trial of the main case in the 1997 cinema fire tragedy.

Justice also directed the trial court to fix at least three dates of hearing per week in the matter and sought a status report of the proceedings there by February 18 next year.

"... the trial court is directed to fix at least three dates of hearing in the matter per week and is called upon to endeavour to complete the trial in the proceedings with pronouncement of judgement by July 15, 2019," the said.

The high court, which had earlier directed the lower court to decide the case by November 30, took into account a status report filed by the in which it had stated about the heavy pendency in its court.

The at the here mentioned in the status report that there were 49 prosecution witnesses in the case and 37 are yet to be examined.

Neelam Krishnamoorthy, of the Association of the Victims of Tragedy (AVUT), submitted that at least five dates of hearing be fixed before the trial court as the matter relating to tampering of evidence in the main case, which involved Sushil and Gopal Ansal, was very old.

The also asked the government and other parties in the case to cooperate in the trial to expedite disposal of the matter.

On January 17, the high court had sought details of a case relating to the cinema fire tragedy which was being heard by a trial court. This was after the victims' group moved a plea for a speedy trial in the matter.

On June 13, 1997, a fire broke out at the theatre during the screening of Bollywood film 'Border', killing 59 people and injuring over 100.

On January 31, 2003, a trial court ordered an inquiry after some documents related to the case went missing from the court's record room. After an inquiry, a court employee was dismissed from service.

The case is related to the tampering of a judicial file pertaining to a letter written by vice of Industries Ltd, V K Nagpal, to the Fire Services. An FIR was registered in this regard.

"It is important to note, that even in the main Uphaar fire tragedy case, the entire trial was concluded within a period of 10 years with the intervention of this court...

"However, in the instant case, which arises out tampering with the original court records of the Uphaar fire tragedy case, despite 10 years from the date of registration of FIR, not a single prosecution witness has been able to complete their deposition," the plea by the association said.

The had on May 12 last year upheld a trial court order framing charges of tampering of evidence against Ansals.

A magisterial court on May 31, 2014 ordered framing of charges against seven accused for abatement of offence, causing disappearance of evidence, criminal breach of trust by public servant and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

Theatre owners and his brother Sushil Ansal, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, and were accused of tampering with evidence in the case, pending since 2006.

All the accused have denied the allegations against them.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 19:05 IST
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