The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Uphaar theatre owner Gopal Ansal’s plea seeking more time to surrender. This is the second time the apex court has declined the plea. Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil owned the Uphaar cinema in South Delhi, where 55 moviegoers died after the establishment caught fire in 1997.

Ansal’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani told the Supreme Court that as he had moved President Pranab Mukherjee with a mercy petition, Ansal would need a few more days to surrender. Jethmalani said since the president was not available, Ansal should be given more time till a decision is made on his mercy petition, reported IANS.

“It is beyond our purview. You go and mention before the President. We can’t grant time,” the bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said, according to NDTV. Jethmalani then urged the bench to ask Mukherjee to expedite his decision on the mercy petition. “How can we tell the President?” the bench said.

On February 9, the apex court had sentenced Gopal Ansal to jail for one year in connection with the case. He was asked to surrender within four weeks. He has already spent four months in jail. The court had spared Sushil Ansal, 77, because of his age.

The fire broke out during an afternoon screening of Bollywood film Border. Most of the victims died of suffocation. Several others were injured in the stampede that ensued. The cinema hall authorities had blocked the exit doors to add more seats, which left the people trapped inside.