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Uphaar cinema fire: Court to hear arguments on charges against Amod Kanth

Uphaar cinema fire: Court to hear arguments on charges against Amod Kanth

<p><strong>New Delhi:</strong> A Delhi court on Saturday fixed November 30 as the date for hearing arguments on framing of charges against former IPS officer Amod Kanth for his alleged culpability in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.</p>

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday fixed November 30 as the date for hearing arguments on framing of charges against former IPS officer Amod Kanth for his alleged culpability in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma set the date for the hearing after Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) informed him that high court had dismissed Kanth's plea against the 2010 trial court order summoning him. Kanth has been accused of allowing extra seats at Uphaar cinema hall where 59 movie-watchers died in a blaze.

Earlier, the magisterial court had refrained from passing any order after it was informed that high court is seized of the similar issue and had reserved its verdict on the summoning of Kanth. Dismissing Kanth's plea on October 3, high court also rejected his argument that he cannot be tried for allegedly allowing extra seats in Uphaar as "sanction to prosecute" him had not been procured.

The court direction came while hearing the case against Kanth, who has been booked under Section 304A (causing death by rash and negligent act), 337 (causing hurt by an act which endangers human life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act which endangers human life) of IPC and also under the Cinematography Act. Fifty-nine persons were asphyxiated to death and over 100 others injured in the fire at Uphaar cinema hall in New Delhi on June 13, 1997, during a screening of Hindi blockbuster 'Border'.

A lower court in August 2010 rejected the CBI report which absolved Kanth of all criminal culpability in the tragedy. On a plea by Uphaar cinema victims, the trial judge had summoned Kanth on August 12, 2010. The court had said there was sufficient material to prosecute Kanth under the IPC sections. It had also said there was prima-facie evidence to prosecute Kanth under the Cinematography Act.

The alleged role of Kanth in the case had come under the scanner when a trial court, while awarding varying jail terms to the 12 accused, including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal, had asked CBI to probe his alleged "acts of commission and omission" in allowing the extra seats. High court had also dismissed Kanth's argument that the trial judge was wrong in rejecting CBI's closure report, in which he had been given a clean chit.

Further, high court also rejected his argument that the plea by the victims before the magistrate was hopelessly time- barred as the act complained about pertained to 1979 while the tragedy itself had taken place on June 13, 1997. Earlier, AVUT had said that "material available on record shows serious offences punishable under Section 304 of IPC are made out against Kanth; so, he should not be discharged in the case as he was the main architect of the whole fire tragedy."


first published:October 05, 2013, 17:35 IST