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Anguish over Uphaar plea dismissal by Supreme Court

The court spared the Ansal brothers further jail term

By PTI in New Delhi

  • Published 21.02.20, 3:38 AM
  • Updated 21.02.20, 3:38 AM
Neelam Krishnamoorthy
Neelam Krishnamoorthy (File photo)

The Supreme Court delivers justice only when there is a public outrage or a media campaign, a “shattered” Neelam Krishnamoorthy said after the top court on Thursday dismissed the curative petition filed by an association of the victims of the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy, sparing the Ansal brothers further jail term.

Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the blaze, said justice was a “luxury” that was available only to the rich and powerful in the country.

“I think this is an absolutely disappointing judgment. We are completely shattered. We thought the Supreme Court would look at the legal points raised. After so many years, as a parent, I feel that justice is a luxury which is available only to the rich and powerful in this country,” she said.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices N.V. Ramana and Arun Mishra dismissed the curative plea by the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT). “We have gone through the curative petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out.... Hence, the curative petition is dismissed,” the court said.

On February 9, 2017, the apex court had by a 2:1 majority verdict given relief to 78-year-old Sushil Ansal considering his “advanced age-related complications” by awarding him the jail term that he had already served. It had, however, asked his younger sibling Gopal Ansal to serve the remaining one-year jail term.

Krishnamoorthy, the AVUT chief, said there had never been public outrage in the case, unlike in the cases of the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder of a paramedical student and the Jessica Lal murder case.

“The SC delivers instant justice when there is public outrage or a media campaign,” she said.

“Unfortunately, there has never been public outrage in this case. I think there is no legal remedy left for us. There is an Uphaar evidence-tampering case which is going on in the trial court and there also the Ansals will use the same plea that the SC has let us off because we are old and get away,” Krishnamoorthy added.

“Although I spent a quarter century in the court, I had full faith in our judiciary. I have been let down and I do not feel I will get justice.

“All I can say is the Supreme Court does not find it important to deliver justice to common citizens. Justice has been delivered in the (Delhi) gang rape and murder case because of the public outrage. What happened in the Jessica Lal murder case? The judgment was reversed due to the public outcry,” Krishnamoorthy said.

On June 13, 1997, halfway through the screening of Border, a fire broke out in Uphaar Cinema, killing 59 people and injuring over 100.

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