The police told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that its investigation into how real estate baron Sushil Ansal, convicted in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire incident that claimed 59 lives, got a passport despite his conviction, is at the penultimate stage and a final report is expected in around two months.
The submission was made before Justice Najmi Waziri during the hearing of a plea filed by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) through its chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy seeking a CBI probe into the alleged criminal misconduct by passport and police officials in issuing the travel document to Ansal.
The court granted Delhi Police time till March 31 to complete the probe and file its report.
Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the tragedy, has in the plea questioned how Ansal was given VVIP treatment by issuance of a 'F' or fast token.
The same query was posed by the court to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which in an affidavit had claimed "no special facility was granted" to Ansal.
The MEA had said the F-tokens were granted at discretion of passport officer for expeditious submission of documents and not to relax any legal requirement and the facility is extended to all kinds of applicants, including senior citizens.
The ministry had also said that in the present case the token was issued to Ansal as he was a senior citizen and also a businessman, but "he was not treated as a VIP".
Another query raised by the court was regarding how his application status was changed from pre-verification status to post-verification and the stop imposed on it was removed.
Regarding conversion from pre-police verification to post verification, the ministry had said it was done as Ansal had furnished a no objection certificate (NOC) from the concerned trial court.
Since the adverse reports pertained to the FIR for which NOC had been submitted, Ansal's application status was changed from pre-verification to post verification, it had told the court.
The court had on December 17, 2018 directed the agency to lodge an FIR in connection with Ansal getting a favourable verification report in 2013 when he applied for a fresh passport.
Delhi Police had, thereafter, lodged an FIR against Ansal and the police officers who had given the favourable verification report.
Krishnamoorthy has been fighting a legal battle on behalf of the victims' families for over 20 years now.
A fire at Uphaar Cinema during the screening of Hindi film 'Border' on June 13, 1997 had killed 59 people.
The apex court in 2017 had asked Gopal Ansal, who was also convicted in the case, to undergo the remaining of one-year jail term in the case, while his elder brother Sushil Ansal got relief from incarceration with a prison term already undergone by him in view of age-related complications.