Real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal today escaped being jailed in the 18-year-old gruesome Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy in which 59 people died with the Supreme Court asking them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each and restricting their jail term to the period already undergone by them.
Over turning the pleas of CBI and the victims’ association, a three-judge bench of Justices A R Dave, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel asked them to pay the total fine of Rs 60 crore in three months and deposit it with the Delhi government, which in turn will spend the money on welfare schemes.
While Sushil, 76, had spent over five months in prison, 67-year-old Gopal was in jail for over four months immediately after the tragedy.
The bench rejected the submissions of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for CBI, that the convicts be sent to jail to serve the remaining jail term.
“My instruction from CBI is to press for their custody,” Salve said, when the court sought his views.
Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, who represented the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), also said that the convicts not only be jailed, but rather their punishment should be enhanced.
Fifty-nine people, trapped in the balcony of the theatre in South Delhi, had died of asphyxia following the fire and over 100 were injure in the subsequent stampede on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Bollywood film “Border”.
Earlier, a bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra (since retired) had on March 5, 2014, held real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal guilty, but differed on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to them.