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Uphaar case: Sentence deferred
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 21
A city Sessions Court today deferred the pronouncement of sentence in the Uphaar fire disaster case with the 12 convicts, including cinema owner Ansal brothers Sushil and Gopal, making a plea for releasing them on probation.

The convicted accused sought to invoke the provision of Probation Act before Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal to let them off with fine and put their behaviour on observation during the probation period.@@Since the hearing on quantum of punishment could not be completed, ASJ Sehgal, adjourned it for tomorrow, indicating that she might pronounce the sentences only on Friday.@@The counsel for Ansal brothers sought to invoke the Probation Act provisions on the ground that they were “respectable” businessmen and did not have any past criminal record or involved in any other offence of any nature and did not pose any threat to society.@@Their lawyer R.K Naseem said the whole purpose of punishment was to save society from the criminal act of the accused persons, if convicted in a case, but that analogy would not apply in their case.@@At the most their mistake was an “error of judgement”, which had made a case of negligence against them, he argued.@@Taking cue from Ansals’ plea, the counsel of other convicted accused also sought to invoke the Probation Act provisions. On the other hand the prosecution demanded maximum punishment for the convicts.@@The court yesterday had convicted the Ansal brothers, two MCD officials, a Delhi Fire Service officer under Section 304-A, for causing death of 59 persons during a film show on June 13, 1997, due to negligence, for which the maximum sentence is two years and some other provisions of the IPC, which also carry the maximum punishment of two-year jail term.@@However, three managers of the cinema hall and a gate-keeper and three Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) officials were convicted under Section 304 which carries minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum for life.

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