Uphaar Cinema Fire: Gopal Ansal Surrenders 20 Years After Tragedy

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Gopal Ansal surrendered on Monday evening before Tihar jail authorities to undergo a one-year sentence in the Uphaar Cinema fire case. His surrender comes after a prolonged 20-year-long legal battle which began in 1997.

Gopal Ansal surrendered on Monday after the rejection of multiple requests to get relief from jail time, on the grounds that he was 69 years old and would suffer irreparable damage to his health if sent to prison.

Also Read: Uphaar Cinema Tragedy: Gopal Ansal to Surrender on Thursday

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court had declined any relief to Gopal Ansal and asked him to surrender by evening to undergo the jail term in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul rejected the plea moved by the real estate baron seeking more time to surrender on the ground that he has moved a mercy plea before the President.

"Sorry, we can't," the bench said when senior advocate Ram Jethmalani mentioned the matter and sought more time, telling the court that they have already approached the President with their mercy plea.

Sixty nine-year-old Gopal Ansal was in jail earlier for around four-and-a-half-months in connection with the case relating to the 13 June 1997 fire tragedy in which 59 people had died in Uphaar cinema during the screening of Hindi movie Border.

Over 100 people were injured in the subsequent stampede.

Also Read: Uphaar Tragedy: Lost Faith in Judiciary, Lament Victims’ Parents

In 2015, the Supreme Court had let off the accused, Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil Ansal, with a Rs 60 crore fine, to be given to the Delhi government towards the setting up of a trauma centre. The verdict was met with widespread public outcry.

On 9 February this year, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Gogoi, in a 2:1 majority verdict , had granted relief to 76-year-old Sushil Ansal considering age-related complications by awarding him the jail term already undergone and had asked Gopal to surrender in four weeks to serve the remaining jail term.

Gopal had thereafter approached the apex court seeking modification of its order, citing old age as a reason.

Earlier, a two-judge bench of the apex court had on 5 March 2014 held Sushil and Gopal Ansal guilty, but differed on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to them after which the matter was heard by a three-judge bench.

(With inputs from media agencies.)