The Supreme Court has dismissed a curative petition on Thursday filed by the victims’ association in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case, reported PTI. The rejection of the plea prevents the accused brothers, Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, from serving a further jail term.
A three-judge bench, comprised of Chief Justice SA Bobde, and Justices Arun Mishra and NV Ramana, was hearing the petition by the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy in-chamber. “We have gone through the curative petitions and the relevant documents,” the court said. “In our opinion, no case is made out....Hence, the curative petition is dismissed.”
On June 13, 1997, during the screening of Bollywood film Border, a fire broke out at Uphaar cinema hall in Delhi’s Green Park neighbourhood. 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.
On Thursday, following the Supreme Court’s verdict, the families of the victims called it a “black day” for them, the Hindustan Times reported. Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who founded the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy, said she was “shattered”.
“As parents seeking justice for the killing of their children, we can now say with certainty that, in India, justice is a luxury accessible only to the rich and powerful,” she said. “We waited a quarter of a century but justice was denied to the Uphaar victims.” Krishnamoorthy had lost her 17-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son in the blaze.
Krishnamoorthy also said that while the court was quick to act on the death of a child at the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest at Shaheen Bagh, there seemed to be no value for the 23 children who died in the Uphaar fire, including a month-old baby.
In 2015, a trial court convicted the Ansal brothers but spared them a jail term due to their age. They were fined Rs 30 crore each. In February 2017, the Supreme Court sent Gopal Ansal to jail for one year but spared Sushil Ansal. The victims’ association, through its president Krishnamoorthy, had sought a review of the ruling by filing the curative plea – the final legal remedy in a case.
In March last year, a court in Delhi had issued non-bailable warrants against the two brothers. The local court was hearing a petition filed by Neelam Krishnamoorthy, whose two children were among the 59 people killed in the fire.