Not fruitful to ask ‘fairly aged’ Ansal Brothers to undergo rigorous imprisonment; Supreme Court

Not fruitful to ask ‘fairly aged’ Ansal Brothers to undergo rigorous imprisonment; Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday, has pronounced the Judgment on the issue of sentencing of Ansal Brothers and another convict, in Uphaar Tragedy case. Although the operative part of the order was pronounced on August 19th, 2015, shortly after hearing the matter, the court has given the reasons for passing such an a month later, through this judgment.

The reason given by the three Judges bench comprising of Justices Anil R Dave, Kurian Joseph and A K Goel as to why leniency was shown to Ansal Brothers is very short. The judgment reads “We have noted the fact that as appellant no.1  is  fairly  aged, it may not be fruitful to ask him to undergo rigorous imprisonmentOn  the ground of parity and  on  the  peculiar  facts  of  this  case,  so  far  as appellant no.2 may also not be constrained to undergo the  sentence,  if  he also pays the same amount of fine

Regarding the conviction of another convict, Harsarup Panwar, the Court said “having regard to advanced age and diseases like alzheimer’s disease suffered by the accused and other peculiar facts and circumstances, if he pays Rs.10 lakh by way of fine, the sentence will stand reduced to the period already undergone.”

The court also observed that “the owners of the cinema premises, were aware of the fact that one exit had been closed due to addition of seats and change in the layout of the seats and the said fact could have exposed the spectators to the risk they actually faced, which ultimately resulted into the mishap.”

The fine which is to be paid by the convicted trio, within three months of the order dated 19.08.2015, shall be used for setting up a new trauma centre or for upgrading the existing trauma centres of hospitals managed by the Government of NCT of Delhi, the court held.

As many as 59 people died and 100 were injured in the fire during the screening of Hindi blockbuster Border on the evening of June 13, 1997. The fire started in the parking lot and then engulfed the building in the busy Green Park area. Most people died in the ensuing stampede or were asphyxiated as the escape routes were blocked by illegally fixed chairs. The trial court had sentenced the duo to two years’ rigorous imprisonment in November 2007. But in December 2008, the Delhi High Court reduced their sentence to one year. While disposing of the appeals filed by the brothers challenging the sentence imposed by HC, Justice Thakur retained the one-year jail term for the duo as imposed by the HC, Justice Misra reduced the jail term of Sushil considering his age to a period already undergone in jail (seven months), but enhanced the sentence of Gopal to two years. Finally, the matter was placed before three judges bench for final decision on the question of sentencing.

Read the Judgment here.