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MP govt backs CBI stand against Bhopal gas verdict

A Bench led by CJI SH Kapadia has scheduled the hearing on both curative petitions for April 13 in open court

With hardly a week left for the Supreme Court to commence hearing on the CBI’s curative petitions in the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy,the State of Madhya Pradesh on Thursday moved the court seeking permission to join hands with the investigating agency against a 1996 apex court verdict terming the industrial diasaster as a mere act of negligence and not culpable homicide on the part of Union Carbide employees.

A Bench led by CJI SH Kapadia has scheduled the hearing on both curative petitions for April 13 in open court. The Madhya Pradesh government in its application sought to stand by the CBI in the Supreme Court,saying it was duty-bound as a “welfare state” to support the victims.

The CBI squarely blames the Supreme Court Bench led by then Chief Justice of India AM Ahmadi for disregarding prosecution evidence in its September 13,1996 judgment.

The agency claims it had then unequivocal evidence that showed the accused persons were guilty of offences under Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide) — which attracts imprisonment up to 10 years or fine or both.

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Fourteen years after the judgment,the CBI had in 2010 moved the SC to cure what it called a “colossal failure of justice” to the victims.

This was after the 26-year trial before a Bhopal court proved to be largely an ineffective one with seven of the accused Union Carbide officials,including then Carbide India chief Keshub Mahindra,getting bail after being found guilty of criminal negligence. The trial verdict had raised a public outcry.

The government has also filed a second curative petition against a 1989 decision of the Supreme Court capping the compensation due from Union Carbide to the victims at $470 million. The government now calls the amount “unrealistic” compared to the extent of the tragedy and wants an enhanced compensation.

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“In the present case where more than five lakh people of State of MP suffered due to leakage of Methyl Isocynate Gas from the Union Carbide India Limited Plant,it is the duty of the State of MP under the Constitution of India being “parens patriae” to provide assistance to the victims in realisation of their rights and entitlements,” the application filed by the state through counsel CD Singh stated.

First published on: 08-04-2011 at 03:27:42 am
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