Victims’ kin disappointed with Uphaar fire case verdict


New Delhi : The families of the victims of the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy here have been left disappointed after the Supreme Court’s verdict Thursday that reduced the amount of compensation.

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The apex court cut down compensation for those above 20 years from Rs.18 lakh to Rs.10 lakh while for those under 20 years, the amount has been reduced from Rs.15 lakh to Rs.7.5 lakh.

“We had a long battle of 15 years… after today’s verdict, overall, I can say that we are very very disappointed,” said Neelam Krishnamurthy, who lost two children in the blaze and is convenor of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).

“This is not about money but the point is that if you want to bring in deterrence you must make those responsible to pay hefty damages,” she added.

Agreed Durga Das, who lost his son in the tragedy. “I am really disappointed… what can I say.”

“It is disappointing. Our fight was not for money but we wanted a judgment that would act as a deterrent so that nobody else meets the same fate like our children,” said Das.

Lashing out at the cinema hall owners Ansals as well as the government agencies, the victims’ families said that those who were responsible should have been made to pay hefty fines.

“By exonerating the government agencies there is a very strong message which is going down and that is – flout the rules as much as you want to and keep on giving away the NOC’s (no objection certificates) without inspections, we are going to do nothing about you,” said Krishnamurthy.

“The verdict means that Delhi Police and the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) will continue to have a free hand in issuing NOCs in return of money,” said an aggrieved family member of a victim.

Krishnamurthy also targeted the apex court as well as the government for dragging their feet in bringing in a strong law to prevent any similar incident.

“The court has once again asked parliament to introduce a new law and we have been urging the Congress party for the same since the last over two years but to no avail. I think they will keep on passing the buck,” she said.

“The Supreme Court has lost a very good opportunity of laying down a new law,” she added.