Uphaar ruling raises questions on criminal justice: AAP

New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court ruling on the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy has “raised extremely serious questions the way criminal justice is delivered” in India, Delhi’s ruling AAP said on Thursday.

The Aam Aadmi Party expressed “deep disappointment” over the ruling on Wednesday when the apex court fined Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, who own the cinema, Rs.30 crore each but said they won’t have to go to jail.

“The party has decided to make its stand public since the case has raised extremely serious questions about the way criminal justice is delivered in our country though it would have desisted from commenting on any judgment in normal course,” the AAP said in a series of tweets.

“The final outcome in the case, which lingered on for 18 years, has led to the public impression that it is a travesty of justice, given the scale of tragedy and magnitude of negligence which was a result of political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus,” it said.

“AAP stands firmly with the families who lost their near and dear ones for no fault of theirs, and their remaining members (who) have been running from pillar to post to get justice, which unfortunately has eluded them so far.”

Saying the CBI may file a review petition against the verdict, the AAP said it felt “much more is to be done to restore the faith of families of the victims in the justice delivery system which appears to have been shattered”.

A terrible fire in the transformer room of Uphaar cinema in south Delhi on June 13, 1997 killed 59 people after it emitted toxic gases.

The deaths mainly occurred as viewers could not escape because the exit doors were closed barring one operational exit.

In 2007, a trial court sentenced the Ansal brothers to two years in jail. The next year, the Delhi High Court reduced the sentence by half. The Ansals have spent between four to five months in jail but now won’t have to return to prison.

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