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Ansal Brothers Delayed Trial By Tampering Evidence, Can't Seek Benefit Of Old Age: Prosecution Opposes Suspension Of Sentence In Delhi HC

Suhavi Arya
15 Jan 2022 4:46 AM GMT
Ansal Brothers Delayed Trial By Tampering Evidence, Cant Seek Benefit Of Old Age: Prosecution Opposes Suspension Of Sentence In Delhi HC
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The Delhi High Court on Friday continued hearing the plea filed by real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, seeking suspension of their seven-year jail terms in the evidence tampering case in connection with the Uphaar fire tragedy that happened in the year 1997.Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan appearing for the prosecution primarily contended that the Ansal brothers...

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The Delhi High Court on Friday continued hearing the plea filed by real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, seeking suspension of their seven-year jail terms in the evidence tampering case in connection with the Uphaar fire tragedy that happened in the year 1997.

Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan appearing for the prosecution primarily contended that the Ansal brothers are themselves responsible for a delayed trial by indulging in tampering of evidence, and hence, they cannot now seek suspension of their jail term.

"The conspiracy did not end in 2003. It was not frustrated with recovery of mutilated documents. In fact, the prosecution was forced to lead secondary evidence. The Trial was enormously delayed. The benefit of it continues till today where they now say I'm old and should be released," he argued.

He further that since the brothers have been convicted by the trial Court, their actions stand proved and there is no presumption of innocence in their favour. He added that now, only if something so erroneous is found that it is beyond shocking the judicial conscience of the Court, that the sentence can be suspended.

This he said, is the test is perversity. "Is your judicial conscience so troubled that your lordship will interfere at this stage?" he asked.

In this context, Krishnan submitted, the second test that the court would apply is the test of notice; were they put on notice as to what was the extent of charge against them?

He contended that it was crystal clear to everyone as to what was the extent of charge. "Even at the stage when they had filed revision against charge, this issue was debated at great length."

Reliance was placed on the case of Willie (William) Slaney vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and Main Pal vs State Of Haryana. Krishnan quoted from the judgment,

"...The same broad principles of justice and fair play must be brought to bear when determining a matter of prejudice as in adjudging guilt. But when all is said and done what we are concerned to see is whether the accused had a fair trial, whether he knew what he was being tried for, whether the main facts sought to be established against him were explained to him fairly and clearly and whether he was given a full and fair chance to defend himself. If all these elements are there and no prejudice is shown the conviction must stand whatever the irregularities whether traceable to the charge or to a want of one."

Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing Ansals' challenge to a trial court order dismissing their plea for suspension of 7 years' sentence in December 2021.

The High Court had previously asked if it is feasible to detain the real estate barons, given their advanced age and Covid-19 conditions. This was strongly objected by the Delhi Police in the hearing last week.

Yesterday, Krishnan argued that there is no presumption of innocence anymore, the Ansal brothers have been convicted for an offence for doing something illegal, therefore their plea for suspension of jail term should not be allowed. They had entered into the conspiracy to obtain a favourable verdict and this conspiracy was unearthed when the mutilated documents were discovered. The benefits of this conspiracy are still being reaped by the Ansal brothers today, as they are not claiming old age to further their plea of suspension of jail term.

The matter is now listed for hearing on January 19.

Background:

On 13 June 1997, 59 lives were lost and 103 people were injured in the fire of Uphaar Cinema, where audience was watching that year's biggest Bollywood blockbuster, Border, during an afternoon screening. Delhi's posh Uphaar Cinema, was/ is owned by real estate giants and brothers - Sushil and Gopal Ansal. After 95 hearings, the Ansals were finally convicted, to seven years in prison on 8 November 2021, in evidence tampering case, the Court also imposes a fine of Rs 2.5 crore on each of the Ansals. The court also gave 7-year-jail terms to former court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma and two others - PP Batra and Anoop Singh and imposed a fine of ₹3 lakh on each of them.

The Ansal brothers then appealed to the trial court for suspension of plea, which was then rejected and that impugned Order is in question before this Hon'ble Court.

Case Title: Sushil Ansal v. State NCT of Delhi CRL.M.C. 3276/2021, Gopal Ansal v. State, CRL.M.C. 3277/2021, Anoop Singh Karayat v. State CRL.M.C. 3517/2021 

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