Uphaar fire tragedy: SC orders Gopal Ansal to surrender on March 20

Gopal Ansal who had earlier served 4 months of his 1-year sentence, was to surrender by 9 March to serve the remaining sentence in jail.

Uphaar fire tragedy: SC orders Gopal Ansal to surrender on March 20

Dismissing the Uphaar theatre owner Gopal Ansal's plea to not send him to prison to serve the remaining sentence in the 1997 fire tragedy case, Supreme Court on Thursday order him to surrender on March 20.

A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice AK Goel, extending his date of surrender by 10 days, asked Gopal Ansal to surrender on 20 March to serve the nearly seven months in jail.

"Appeal dismissed. Accused Gopal Ansal will surrender to serve (the) remaining sentence...," said the bench.

The apex court's bench refused to accept Gopal Ansal's plea seeking parity with elder brother Sushil Ansal, who was let off with the sentence he has already served.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani appearing for Gopal Ansal even told the court that his "cinema hall has gone" and he was "practically living on some people's help and charity".

Gopal Ansal who had earlier served 4 months of his 1-year sentence, was to surrender by 9 March to serve the remaining sentence in jail.

Along with his brother Sushil Ansal, Gopal Ansal is co-accused in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case in which 59 persons were killed.

The top court on 9 February sentenced the builder to one year in jail. He said the court could not deny him the same relief extended to Sushil Ansal because his medical condition too was "equally precarious".

Sushil Ansal's age and ailments were taken into consideration while not sending him to prison.

Gopal Ansal sought modification of the order which asked him to serve the remaining sentence, citing his hearing impairment due to which he claimed he has fainted several times.

The apex court also dismissed the plea of the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), which opposed Gopal Ansal's plea.

The court accepted contentions of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that review pleas of the CBI and the association have already been decided and there cannot be a review of the review judgement.

Expressing "genuine remorse" for those who died in the "unfortunate tragedy", Gopal Ansal contended that he had borne the punishment more than he deserved.

The court had said that since Gopal Ansal, 69, did not suffer any age-related complications, as was the case with Sushil Ansal, 77, there could be no principle of parity and he must spend one year in prison.