Delhi police today petitioned the high court for shifting a case of alleged destruction of evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy being heard by a trial court to some other judge, accusing the one currently hearing it of “hostility” towards the complainant and the state.
In its plea, the police has also alleged that the sessions court judge is “conducting the case in a manner alien tolaw and upon his own whims and fancies”.
Hearing the matter, Justice Siddharth Mridul ordered issuance of notices to Ansal brothers, the owners of Uphaar theatre, and other accused in the case.
The notices issued to real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal, Dharamveer Malhotra and Anoop Singh are returnable before January 5 next year.
The move came on a plea moved by the Delhi police seeking the transfer of the case, pending in the court of an additional sessions judge at Patiala House court here, to some other competent court having jurisdiction.
“The atmosphere in the court is unfortunately very hostile qua the complainants and the state. The sessions court is conducting the case in a manner alien to law and upon his own whims and fancies which is resulting in the loss of confidence in the trial process. The victims who have fought a long battle in court are feeling intimidated and undermined,” the Delhi police plea said.
They further said that the case of the prosecution is one of conspiracy, yet the judge is insisting that the case is argued piecemeal, i.E, the accused-wise and has stated he would pass orders accused-wise which is not only contrary to “elementary principles of conspiracy but also a stand adopted to prevent the prosecution from presenting its case in entirety.”
The trial court had on May 31 last year ordered framing of charges against the seven accused for abetment of offence, causing disappearance of evidence, criminal breach of trust by public servant and criminal conspiracy.
Theatre owners Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil Ansal, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra as well as a court employee, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, are accused of tampering with evidence in the case, pending since 2006.
On June 13, 1997, a fire had broken out at the theatre during the screening of Bollywood film ‘Border’, killing 59 people and injuring over 100.
A court had on January 31, 2003, ordered an inquiry after some documents related to the Uphaar case had gone missing from the court’s record room. After an inquiry, the court employee was dismissed from service.
( Source – PTI )