ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

A Much-Needed Precedent

The recent verdict in the Uphaar theatre tragedy highlights the need for greater public awareness to ensure safety. 

The judgment delivered recently by a Delhi sessions court waged by the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy that upholds the guilt of the 12 accused in the Uphaar (AVUT), can propel the justice machinery, on the other, it draws cinema tragedy sets a much-needed precedent. The attention to the need for closure in instances of similar other judgment proves vital in that, on the one hand, it exemplifies disasters, where public safety has been deliberately given how a sustained campaign by the people, as seen in the struggle short shrift. On June 13, 1997, 59 people, several of whom were children, died mainly of asphyxiation, after a fire caused by a poorly functioning transformer broke out in Delhi’s Uphaar theatre, during the screening of a film; in addition, 103 persons sustained grievous injuries. The wait for justice has been prolonged, and has been possible because of the unflagging campaign waged by the AVUT that was formed within a fortnight of the tragedy.

An initial committee of inquiry headed by a deputy commissioner, Naresh Kumar, and later a Central Bureau of Investigation probe established the culpability of several players, including six from the government, i e, from the Delhi Vidyut Board, the Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Fire Service. The Naresh Kumar report in its every detail has convincingly shown how building by-laws, electricity norms and rules ascribed by the Cinematograph Act 1952 were violated. Along with four theatre employees, the court, in its judgment of November 20, held these government officials guilty of “culpable homicide”, as they had issued no objection certificates (NOCs) permitting several illegalities such as the construction of a mezzanine floor, the blocking of exits so as to add to balcony seating space, and locating the transformer in the theatre’s parking space. The Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, too have been held guilty, albeit of lesser charges, i e, of causing “death by negligence”.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top