SC declines more surrender time to Uphaar owner

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday declined Uphaar theatre owner Gopal Ansal’s plea for more time to surrender, as he said he has moved the President for mercy and pardon.

“Sorry, we can’t,” said a bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul as senior counsel Ram Jethmalani urged the court to give a few more days to Gopal Ansal to surrender.

He was scheduled to surrender by 5.00 p.m on Monday.

Seeking more time to surrender, Jethmalani told the court that they had filed a plea for pardon before the President.

“Mercy plea is in the exclusive domain of the President and courts cannot intervene,” the bench said as Jethmalani urged the court to direct an early decision on Gopal Ansals’s mercy plea.

The apex court had on March 9 rejected Gopal Ansal plea not to send him to jail to undergo the remaining part of his one-year sentence in the Uphaar fire tragedy case, but had extended the surrender time by ten days.

The top court by its February 9 order while directing Gopal Ansal to undergo one year sentence had given him four weeks’ time to surrender. The four-week period was over on February 9 — the day when he was given another ten days to surrender.

A huge fire had broken out at the Uphaar cinema hall when Hindi movie “Border” was being screened on June 13, 1997. Trapped inside, 59 persons died of asphyxia and over 100 were injured in a stampede.

The case has dragged on for the last 20 years.

–IANS

pk/nir

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