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Uphaar fire case: Delhi HC upholds evidence tampering charge against Ansals

The Delhi High Court on Friday upheld a trial court order framing the charge of tampering of evidence against real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal in a case related to the 1997 Uphaar theatre fire tragedy.

A Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul held that there was adequate material on record before the magisterial court that justified the framing of the charge against Ansals and others.

“The material gave rise to strong suspicion that accused committed the offence for which charge was rightly framed,” the Bench said.

It also directed the magisterial court to proceed with the trial in the case.

On May 31, 2014, the magisterial court ordered the framing of charge against seven accused for abetment of offence, causing disappearance of evidence, criminal breach of trust by public servant and criminal conspiracy under the IPC.

Gopal Ansal, Sushil Ansal, Anoop Singh, Prem Prakash Batra, Harswaroop Panwar, Dharamveer Malhotra and Dinesh Chandra Sharma are accused of tampering with evidence in the case, pending since 2006. All have denied the charge.

In March last year, the High Court allowed a plea of the Delhi Police seeking transfer of revision petitions of the accused that are pending before a sessions court.

The court had transferred the matter to itself, saying it was warranted to protect and uphold dignity and majesty of the judicial system and to ensure the faith of the citizens in the court of law.

The order was passed after all the parties gave their consent for transfer of petitions.

The Ansal brothers, Malhotra and Singh had approached the sessions court challenging the order passed by the magisterial court.

On June 13, 1997, a fire broke out at the theatre during the 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 had gone missing from the court’s record room. After an inquiry, a court employee was dismissed from service.