HC seeks Centre's stand on plea for CBI probe into Sushil Ansal getting passport
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Centre's response on a plea seeking CBI probe into alleged criminal misconduct by passport and police officials in issuing the travel document to real
estate baron Sushil Ansal despite his conviction in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire which claimed 59 lives.
Justice Najmi Waziri issued notice to the central government, the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Delhi Police and CBI seeking their stand on the application moved by Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) through its chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who lost two children in the tragedy.
She has been fighting a legal battle on behalf of the victims' families for the last 20 years.
The court also chastised the Delhi Police for not completing its vigilance enquiry into the lapses by its officers who in 2013 cleared Ansal for issuance of a fresh passport.
"Why did you wait till November 28 to begin the enquiry when you had received the report (of the External Affairs Ministry) on November 15. You think there is no urgency? Come with a report on the next date," it said and listed the matter for further hearing on December 17.
The MEA had given a report to the court blaming Delhi Police and passport authorities for issuing the travel document without proper verification to Ansal.
The court had asked the MEA to carry out an inquiry against the passport officers who had repeatedly issued the travel document to Ansal in 2000, 2004, 2013 and 2018 and to submit a report before it.
AVUT, represented by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, contended in court that there was a "nexus" and "conspiracy" between the RPO officials, police officers and Ansal which led to the issuance of the passport to him despite being convicted in the Uphaar tragedy case.
Pahwa, argued that the entire chain of events not only indicated misconduct by the public servants, it also showed abuse of power by them.
He also said that police has not placed on record the reports regarding its verification of Ansal before issuance of the passport.
He further said that Ansal had surrendered his passport in 2017 only after AVUT filed a plea in the trial court for an investigation into how he had got the travel document when he was facing criminal cases.
Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Ansal, opposed the contentions on behalf of AVUT and said that her client was issued a passport in 1996 which was valid till 2016.
She said that in 2000 and 2004 her client had sought additional booklets for his passport and that is why no police verification was carried out.
The senior lawyer also
said that there was no need to take the instant matter any further as Ansal no longer has a passport and he has no expectations of getting a fresh one in the future.