The police on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it has started to interrogate real estate baron Sushil Ansal, convicted for the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire incident that claimed 59 lives, regarding how he got fresh passports despite criminal cases pending against him. The submission was made by the Delhi Police in a status report placed before Justice Najmi Waziri who had on December 17 last directed the agency to lodge an FIR in connection with Ansal getting a favourable verification report in 2013 when he applied for a fresh passport.
Delhi Police had, thereafter, lodged an FIR against Ansal and the police officers who had given the favourable verification report. In its status report, Delhi Police has said that during his interrogation, Ansal stated that in 2000, 2001 and 2004 he had obtained additional booklets for his passport and in 2013 he had applied for a fresh passport under Tatkaal scheme.
"Record from the regional passport office is still awaited and further interrogation shall be carried out after obtaining the relevant record," police said in its report. Apart from Ansal, one of the officers who in 2013 had carried out his police verification has also been examined, it said.
The Ministry of External Affairs, meanwhile, placed before the court in a sealed cover its revised report regarding how Ansal's application for a passport in 2018 was moved from pre-police verification status to post-police verification. The revised report was filed after the court on the last date said there were some "anomalies" in it which needed another look.
The court was hearing a plea moved by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), through its chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged criminal misconduct by passport and police officials in issuing the travel document to Ansal. A fire at Uphaar Cinema during the screening of Hindi film 'Border' on June 13, 1997, had killed 59 people.
Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the tragedy, has been fighting a legal battle on behalf of the victims' families for over 20 years now. The apex court in 2017 had asked Gopal Ansal, who was also convicted in the case, to undergo the remaining of one-year jail term in the case, while his elder brother Sushil Ansal got relief from incarceration with a prison term already undergone by him in view of age-related complications.
AVUT, represented by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, had earlier contended in court that there was a "nexus" and "conspiracy" between the regional passport office (RPO) officials, police officers and Ansal which led to the issuance of the passport to him despite being convicted in the Uphaar tragedy case. As per rules, the passport application for new/ re-issue/ replacement of lost/ damaged passport issued by the MEA mandates the applicant to disclose whether he is involved in a criminal case or not and to produce the NOC from the court concerned in case they are involved in any criminal prosecution.
(With inputs from agencies.)