Uphaar evidence tampering case: Delhi HC reserves order on appeals of Ansal brothers

The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved the order on the petition moved by businessmen Sushil and Gopal Ansal in the Uphaar evidence tampering case.

ANI | New Delhi | Updated: 27-01-2022 16:11 IST | Created: 27-01-2022 16:11 IST
Uphaar evidence tampering case: Delhi HC reserves order on appeals of Ansal brothers
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved the order on the petition moved by businessmen Sushil and Gopal Ansal in the Uphaar evidence tampering case. The lower court had awarded them seven years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs. 2.25 crore on each of them.

The court will hear the appeal on conviction on February 23. Justice Subramonium Prasad reserved the order after hearing the arguments of the counsel for convicts and for the victims of the Uphaar Tragedy.

The bench said, ''We will try to pronounce the judgment on the petition before the date of hearing in the trial court. If, in any case, it is not pronounced by then, I will direct the trial court to continue the hearing on appeals." Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Counsel for Ansal, submitted before the bench that no judicial system considered the primary conviction as final. There is a need to adopt a larger view and not a tactical one.

Singhvi said that "it was alleged that I delayed the trial which is not true. We had challenged the summoning order on charge, even during that period trial was not stay." He further submitted with regards to the allegations related to the conspiracy of tampering with evidence, "there is no direct evidence of tampering. The only ground was that I would be the beneficiary of delay."

The senior advocate argued, ''everything was based on the point of benefit from conspiracy. But there cannot be an open-ended, continuing conspiracy. He said 95 per cent of documents were those whose author was not examined. In this situation, admissibility of those document can't go without the authenticity of the author." Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam, counsel on behalf of Sushil Ansal, submitted that he was the licensee of the Uphar cinema hall.

"In this case, I gained nothing out of this alleged tampering," said Nigam. "If all the documents were intact and exhibited before the court, then what led to this delay is questionable, he added.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate N. Hariharan argued on behalf of the Gopal Ansal. "Motive alone was not sufficient to prove conspiracy. There are certain things that need to be proved for the charge of conspiracy. There should be a reason to believe that two or more persons conspired to commit an offence," he said.

He also submitted that Gopal Ansal was not attributed to any role for conspiracy. Despite that, the petitioner was convicted of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and destruction of evidence. He also claimed that the petitioner did not get any advantage from the alleged conspiracy as documents were missing. There is no evidence to connect him to any conspiracy.

Hariharan also argued that delay was not caused due to alleged conspiracy as the court had allowed the secondary evidence to be placed in the case. On the point of delay in trial, Hariharan said, '' delays were due to legal challenges and that was the right of the accused, still the proceedings at trial court continued." On the other hand Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, counsel for the petitioner, argued that the ''prosecuting agency took adjournment 226 times, it was the prosecution not the accused who took these adjournments. Sushil Ansal took only 12 adjournments while Gopal Ansal took only 15."

He also submitted before the court that the lungs of the petitioner were affected during the COVID-19 subsequent waves. '' In view of the age, situation, ailment of the petitioner, the sentence should be suspended during the pendency of the appeal," Dubey said. Businessmen Gopal Ansal, Sushil Ansal and one other moved the Delhi High Court against the order of Sessions Court. The Sessions court had not suspended their sentence.

Earlier they moved Sessions Court against Magistrate Court's order convicting and sentencing them to seven years jail for tampering with evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Court on November 8 sentenced seven-year imprisonment and imposed Rs 2.25-crore fine each on Sushil and Gopal Ansal for tampering with evidence.

Additional Session Judge Anil Antil had dismissed their application for suspension of sentence. Gopal Ansal, Sushil Ansal and PP Batra had appealed against the conviction. The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court while passing the order also said, "After thinking over nights and nights, I have come to the conclusion that they deserve punishment."

In the matter, Court had earlier convicted businessmen Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal along with their two employees among others in the case related to tampering with the crucial evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case. The Court had found all accused guilty under sections 409, 201, 120B of IPC and pronounced the order. Along with Ansal brothers, a court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma, PP Batra, Har Swaroop Panwar, Anoop Singh, and Dharamvir Malhotra were booked in the tampering of evidence case.

Out of seven accused, two accused Har Swaroop Panwar and Dharamvir Malhotra died during the course of the trial. At least 59 people died of asphyxia and over 100 others were injured in the stampede after fire broke out in Uphaar cinema on June 13, 1997, during the screening of JP Dutta's film 'Border'. (ANI)

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

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