Uphaar tragedy: Timeline of journey to justice over two decades

Uphaar tragedy: Timeline of two decades of journey to justiceSushil Ansari

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed real estate baron Gopal Ansal to serve one year jail term in connection with the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case in which 59 people had died. 

The Uphaar tragedy

In what is considered one of the worst fire tragedies in India over the last few decades, 59 cine-goers died of asphyxia, after being trapped in the balcony of Uphaar theatre, situated in south Delhi’s Green Park area, following the blaze. Over 100 were injured in the subsequent stampede during the screening of Bollywood film 'Border'.

Here is the timeline of the case:

June 13, 1997: Fire breaks out in south Delhi's Uphaar cinema during the screening of the Hindi movie "Border", leading to the death of 59 people and leaving more than 100 injured in the subsequent stampede.

July 22, 1997: The crime branch of Delhi Police arrests theatre owner Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav in Mumbai.

July 24, 1997: The probe is transferred from the Delhi Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

November 15, 1997: Chargesheet is filed by the CBI against 16 accused, including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal.

March 10, 1999: A sessions court presided by L.D Malik initiates trial.

February 27, 2001: The court frames charges against accused under various sections, including Sections 304 (culpable homicide), 304 A (causing death by negligent act) and 337 (hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

January 27, 2003: Ansals' plea seeking re-possession of the theatre is rejected on the ground that place of incident is to be preserved to appreciate evidence.

April 24, 2003: The Delhi High Court awards Rs 180 million compensation to be paid to the relatives of victims.

August 21, 2007: Judgement reserved. Court fixes September 5 for pronouncement of its verdict.

September 5, 2007: The court defers pronouncement of the verdict and says it would fix the date of judgement on October 22.

October 22, 2007: Court fixes November 20 as date of verdict.

November 20, 2007: All 12 accused, including Sushil and Gopal Ansal, are convicted by court in the case and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

January 4, 2008: The Delhi High Court grants bail to Ansal brothers and two other accused.

September 11, 2008: Ansals sent to Tihar Jail after Supreme Court cancels their bail.

November 17, 2008: The Delhi High Court reserves trial court order.

December 19, 2008: The Delhi High Court upholds trial court order convicting Ansal brothers but reduces their sentence from two years to one year.

January 30, 2009: The Supreme Court issues notice on petition filed by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT). The CBI too files appeal seeking enhancement of sentence.

April 17, 2013: The Supreme Court reserves order on appeals of Ansals, CBI and AVUT.

March 5, 2014: Judges differ on sentence. While one judge awards one year, another sentences Ansals to term already undergone. Matter referred to three-judge bench.

August 19, 2015: The Supreme Court allows Ansals to walk free after paying a fine of Rs 30 crore each.

February 9, 2017: The Supreme Court announces one-year in jail for Gopal Ansal while Sushil Ansal walks free.

Uphaar tragedy: Timeline of two decades of journey to justice

PTI graphics

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