The Supreme Court had once queried the Delhi government about the utilisation of Rs 60 crore deposited as a fine by the Ansal brothers in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case, for setting up a trauma centre.
The apex court had in August 2015 allowed real estate barons — Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal — to walk free and asked them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each, which would be used for setting up the trauma centre.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.R. Shah had said that a fund of around Rs 60 crore was disbursed by the Ansal Brothers in the Uphaar fire tragedy case, and it was meant to set up a trauma centre.
“What happened to that? There is already one. If that is not set up then we can see what to do with the funds,” noted the bench.
The bench also observed that the existing trauma centre has served Covid-19 patients very well, and quizzed the Delhi government
counsel why it had not utilised the Rs 60 crore. Also, there was a direction to set up a trauma centre, added the bench.
“Who should be held accountable?” the bench had queried.
“We don’t know what happened to that money. We just hope that the purpose it was given to the Delhi government will be fulfilled,” said Neelam Krishanmoorthy, the chairperson of Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).
In 2014, the Supreme Court had given the Ansal brothers an option of depositing Rs 100 crore to offset the proposed enhancement of the imprisonment proposed.
Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra then had ordered the Delhi government to earmark the location at Dwarka.
The apex court ordered to allot five acres of land for the construction of the trauma centre, to be treated as an extension of the Safdarjung Hospital.
It had also directed that the centre would be constructed by Ansal brothers under the supervision of a Committee that would include representatives of AVUT, Safdarjung Hospital medical superintendent and other experts and would be named as Victims of Uphaar Memorial Trauma Centre.
Later in 2015, the fine amount was reduced to Rs 60 crore on a review plea of Ansal brothers in the Supreme Court and it was stated that the money would be utilised for setting up the new trauma centre or upgrading existing trauma centres of hospitals managed by the Delhi government.
The Ansals were quick to deposit the fine amount of Rs 60 crore in demand draft with the chief secretary of Delhi in November 2015.
(Shekhar Singh can be reached at email@example.com)