A Delhi court on Wednesday ordered the de-sealing of the city’s Uphaar cinema hall, where a major blaze had killed 59 people in 1997, PTI reported. The court said that absolutely no purpose would be served by keeping the property sealed.
The court also noted that the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Delhi Police and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) president Neelam Krishnamoorthy have given their assent to the Supreme Court to return the theatre to the applicant.
The plea was moved by Ansal Theatres and Club Hotels Private Limited, whose former directors Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal were convicted in the fire tragedy case.
“...The application is thereby allowed and property in question be de-sealed and released to the applicant being the rightful owner,” the judge said, according to PTI.
On April 27, the Supreme Court had allowed Ansal Theatres to move the trial court for the de-sealing of the cinema hall.
The 1997 tragedy
On June 13, 1997, during the screening of the Hindi film Border, a fire broke out at Uphaar cinema hall in Delhi’s Green Park locality. The fire killed 59 people and injured around 100.
Most of the victims died of suffocation, while several others sustained injuries in the stampede that ensued. During the investigation, it was revealed that the cinema hall authorities had blocked the exit doors to add more seats.
The Ansal brothers had been convicted by a trial court in 2015. They were, however, spared a jail term due to their age but were fined Rs 30 crore each. In February 2017, the Supreme Court sent Gopal Ansal to jail for one year but spared Sushil Ansal.
On November 8, the Ansal brothers were sentenced to seven years in jail for tampering with evidence in connection with the tragedy.
In February this year, the Delhi High Court dismissed their petitions seeking suspension of their seven-year sentence.