Real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal were on Thursday sent to jail by a Delhi court where they surrendered in compliance with a Supreme Court order cancelling their bail in the case of Uphaar fire tragedy, which claimed 59 lives.
While Sushil had remained behind the bars for around 40 days in 1997 when the mishap took place, his younger brother will go to jail for the first time.
Pensive looking Ansal brothers, who were directed by the apex court to 'serve out the remaining period of the two-year sentence' given by the trial court, entered the courtroom of Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) I K Kochhar around 3.15 pm and were taken into custody by CBI personnel on the conclusion of procedural formalities.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday said that the Delhi High Court was 'not justified' in granting them bail in the facts and circumstance of the present case, especially in view of their conduct when they were on bail.
A bench of Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi had taken strong exception to the allegations that Ansal brothers attempted to destroy evidence, saying 'tampering with judicial records is a crime worse than murder or dacoity'.
The ASJ, after perusing the apex court order, called up the names of convicts including the Uphaar hall managers -- Nirmal Singh Chopra and Ajit Choudhary, who were sentenced to seven years jail term.
Ansal brothers, who remained out on bail during the trial in the 11-year-old case, were sentenced to two years jail term on November 23, last year, after being convicted under a milder penal section 304A (causing death by rash and negligent acts) of the IPC.
Flanked by their lawyers, the convicted brothers moved several applications in the court seeking access to medicines, spectacles and medical assistance inside Tihar jail, which was opposed by CBI counsel Y K Saxena on the ground that only Jail Superintendent could decide such issues.
"Don't get into all this. I am ordering to the Jail Superintendent to look into these according to the Jail manual," the judge said.
Ansals, however, got some relief when the judge accepted their request to order the lensmen present outside the courtroom to be sent out of the Patiala House Court complex.
"I want media out of this court," the judge said, asking Delhi Police personnel to push away the journalists.
Sushil, wearing a white shirt and grey trousers, came along with his lawyers, almost five minutes after his younger brother Gopal, who was also sporting a similar shirt and brown trousers, entered in the courtroom to surrender.
Members of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, on whose appeal the apex court had cancelled the bail, were present in the courtroom since morning for attending the day's proceedings.
Neelam Krishnamurthy, who lost both her son and daughter in the tragedy and has been relentlessly pursuing the case for over a decade, expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the events that finally resulted in the arrest of Ansal brothers.
"It is very satisfying to see Ansals going behind the bar. I was not satisfied when they were convicted and still remained outside," Krishnamurthy, who was with her husband Shekhar and other members of Association, said.
AVUT's lawyer Sultan Singh said now the Ansals will know the pain of living in jail away from their kith and kins.
"Ansals will now realise the trauma of the victims' kin who have been living without their loved ones," he said.