Delhi HC notice to Ansal brothers in evidence destruction case

New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice the Ansal brothers and others on a plea seeking transfer of a case of alleged destruction of evidence in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy.

Justice Sidharth Mridul sought a response from Sushil and Gopal Ansal and Anoop Singh and Dharamveer Malhotra by January 5.

The Delhi Police plea sought the transfer of the case, pending in the court of an additional sessions judge in the Patiala House courts complex, to another competent court.

“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 plea said

It added: “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 the elementary principles of conspiracy but also a stand adopted to prevent the prosecution from presenting its case in entirety.”

Senior lawyer Dayan Krishnan, appearing for the Delhi government, said the trial in the case was leading to loss of confidence in the trial process.

The trail court on May 31 last year ordered framing of charges against the seven accused on charges of 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 broke out at the theatre during screening of Bollywood film ‘Border’, killing 59 people and injuring over 100.

A court on January 31, 2003, ordered an inquiry after some documents related to the Uphaar case went missing from the court record room. After an inquiry, the court employee was dismissed from service.

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