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Legal fraternity indignant over Ansals escaping jail term

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By Parmod Kumar

New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s decision to waive off the rest of the jail term of the powerful Ansal brothers, convicted for causing death in the Uphaar cinema fire by their negligence, hasn’t gone down too well in the judicial corridors and also evoked much disquiet among the average litigant about the court’s lenient attitude towards the rich and the powerful.

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The apex court Wednesday said that Ansal brothers will not go back to Tihar Jail to serve their remaining jail terms as it imposed a fine of Rs. 30 crores each on them.

Describing it “unfortunate order”, where the victims have been completely given a good-bye, well-known lawyer Kamini Jaiswal told IANS: “Having waited for 19 years with full faith and confidence in judiciary this must be a traumatic experience” for them.

“This fortifies the impression carried by many that the (judicial) yard-stick varies for the rich and famous and the poor,” Jaiswal added.

“The judgment is not in accordance with the law of the land. Fifty-nine people have died. The case of gross negligence was clearly established. Therefore it was a fit case to award maximum sentence of two years (as provided) under the Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code”, senior counsel Shekhar Naphade told IANS.

However, holding that there was “nothing wrong in the order,” Rupinder Singh Sodhi: a former Delhi High Court judge and now a practicing senior counsel in the apex court, told IANS: “Ansals have already undergone a substantial part of the one year sentence awarded to them by the Delhi High Court. There is a provision for fine under Section 304A Fine is not a lesser sentence. Nor is it a compromise nor can you term it blood money as has been said.”

“Please understand, we don’t believe in an eye-for-an-eye or a tooth-for-a-tooth,” Justice Sodhi said, addding: “This is a sentence provided under Section 304A IPC and it is that sentence that has been awarded to Ansals. They have been given both.”

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Section 304A that provides for punishment for causing death by negligence says:”Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

Differing with Justice Sodhi, Jaiswal said: “If the application for enhancement of sentence (as was sought by the CBI) was to be rejected, the sentence given by the High Court should at least have been have been confirmed.”

Naphade had reservations over the way entire case was handled, saying: “Perhaps the case could have been brought under Section 304 part II but unfortunately that angle was not seriously pursued.”

There seems to be a disquiet amongst the lawyers over the manner in which the punishments under the penal provision gets invoked differently depending on the social milieu of the litigant and it is this that found expression when senior counsel Ravindra Srivastava told IANS: “The law regarding sentencing should be consistent and should be consistently applied.”

(IANS)

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Pollution Severe In Delhi In Spite Of Odd-Even Scheme: SC

SC says despite odd-even scheme, pollution in Delhi became severe

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Odd-Even scheme
In spite of Odd-Even vehicle rationing scheme, pollution has reached a severe level. Pixabay

The Supreme Court on Friday said in spite of Odd-Even vehicle rationing scheme, pollution has reached a severe level, and again called the Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Harayana and Uttar Pradesh, to report on measures taken to curb air pollution particularly related to stubble burning.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, “Do not give exemption to two-wheelers, and it will work.”

During the hearing, the judges scrutinized the Odd-Even scheme of the Delhi government in respect of air quality index data gathered in the past two years. The judges queried the Delhi government counsel, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, what purpose the scheme served by keeping out cars which contribute mere three per cent of the total pollution.

Odd-even scheme in Delhi
The court observed the data presented by the authorities suggest the Odd-Even scheme had hardly any effect on improving air quality. Pixabay

The court observed that Delhi’s local pollution is a major problem, if stubble burning which contributes 40 per cent is kept out.

“According to the authorities, stubble burning has reduced to somewhere near five per cent now…we are concerned about Delhi’s local air pollution. What is the government doing?”

The court observed the data presented by the authorities suggest the Odd-Eeven scheme had hardly any effect on improving air quality. “Question is what are you gaining by this scheme?” observed the court.

Also Read- Pollution Problem in Delhi Likely to Influence Upcoming Delhi Assembly Polls

Further commenting on the social aspect of the Odd-Even scheme, the court said “Odd-Even will only affect the lower middle class but not the affluent ones since they have multiple cars… Odd-Even isn’t a solution, but public transport could be. But nothing has been done about that”, said the court.

The hearing on the matter will continue on November 25. (IANS)