New Delhi–Real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal have been barred from leaving the country until the Supreme Court decides the petitions by the CBI and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), seeking a review of the 2015 verdict on their sentencing.

Ansal brothers – Sushil and Gopal – were convicted for June 13, 1997 fire tragedy in their Uphaar cinema in south Delhi that had left 59 dead.

The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said this as senior counsel Salman Khurshid, appearing for the Ansal brothers, in an oral undertaking, told the bench that the duo will not leave the country till the review petitions are decided.

The court fixed December 14 for the hearing of the matter as it issued a notice to the Ansal brothers on the limited issue of the review of 2015 verdict on their sentencing.

At the outset of the hearing, the bench asked senior counsel Harish Salve to read the part of the September 22, 2015 verdict making it clear the review plea was limited to the sentencing only.

The top court, by its 2015 verdict had enhanced the sentence to two years – the maximum under Section 304 (Causing death by negligence) as Delhi High Court’s one year sentence, but the top court also let them off, the Ansals to pay Rs 30 crore each, coupled with the sentence they have already undergone as part of the sentence. The verdict created an uproar as Ansal brothers had individually undergone just five to six months sentence each.

The bench of Justice Anil R. Dave (since retired), Justice Joseph and Justice Goel had pronounced September 22, 2015 verdict on sentencing which is now being reviewed on the plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the AVUT.

The matter had travelled to three judges’ bench after bench of the then Justice T.S.Thakur (current CJI) and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra (since retired) by their March 5, 2014 verdict while agreeing on the conviction, differed on the quantum of punishment.

While Justice Thakur sentenced the Ansals to one year imprisonment, Justice Misra enhanced it two years but imposed a fine of Rs 50 crore each for the enhanced year.

She had said that Rs 100 crore that Ansal brothers would pay would be used for setting up a trauma centre in Delhi’s Dwarka area.

While the trial court Nov 20, 2007 convicted Ansal brothers and others under Section 403 of IPC and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each, the high court by its Dec 19, 2008 verdict convicted them under Section 304A and reduced their sentence to one year each.

IndUS Business Journal

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