“We will ask them to pay Rs 30 crore each… that’s it. We will give our reasoning tomorrow. A detailed order will be pronounced tomorrow.” – Indian Express

The Supreme Court bench summed up its conclusion – while reducing the jail terms of Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal – in the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy that took 59 lives and left around 100 injured.

Irrespective of the reasons behind it, the decision saw widespread disappointment with analyses pointing that ‘life cannot be compensated with money.’

The Ansal brothers, owner of Uphaar Cinema, and others were first imprisoned for two years (by the trial court), then for one year (by the high court) and then were finally let off with their ‘already served’ some five months jail period.

Obviously, it is to be seen that what made the top court reach at this decision – in a trial that lasted for 18 years – where expensive lawyers of Ansals were on side and a long agonizing wait of the victims on the other side – but the central government must appeal against it without delay.

The CBI must file the review petition as soon as possible – with the sole aim to compensate the delay so far.

It becomes all the more important, with hopes rekindled, after India’s official response at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at Hamburg (ITLOS) during hearing in Italian marines trial case.

”Murders are not compensable offences under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code”, said India’s legal representative Alain Pellet there.

He added – “I cannot help being troubled and (am) quite disturbed by Sir Daniel offer (Italy’s counsel), which I feel to be a kind of proposal to buy impunity for the two marines who stand accused of murder.” – New Indian Express

The case dates back to February 2012 when two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Lattore, in the security detail of merchant ship Enrica Lexie, had shot dead two Kerala fishermen off the Kerala coast.

Italy gave compensation to the families affected and they dropped the case but India’s central government didn’t budge – in spite of Italy’s delaying tactics and in spite of Italy’s duplicity to move back from its ‘sovereign word’ as India argued, as India experienced after Italy breached the trust by refusing to send back marines from Italy to India after India’s Supreme Court had allowed them to go back to Italy to participate in polls there.

ITLOS suspended the trial in India in its order till the next date but it also didn’t accept Italy’s pleas. One marine that is India, will remain in India.

Similar spirit is needed by the central government and its investigating agencies in cases like Uphaar Cinema fire where trials languish for years for reasons that, in fact, don’t stand as ‘reasons’ for an intelligible and neutral mind.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


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