Bhopal gas case: MP govt seeks intervention

MP govt moved the Supreme Court seeking its permission to intervene in the petition filed by CBI for restoration of the stringent charge culpable homicide not amounting to murder in 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy case.

Updated: Apr 07, 2011, 23:31 PM IST

New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday
moved the Supreme Court seeking its permission to intervene in
the petition filed by CBI for restoration of the stringent
charge culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead of
death due to negligence against the accused in 1984 Bhopal
gas tragedy case.
The state government has sought to intervene in the
petition filed by CBI in which the apex court has decided to
re-examine its own September 1996 judgement by which the
accused persons were tried for the offence of criminal
negligence which resulted in a lighter punishment of two
years` jail term of several accused, including former Union
Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra, on June 7, 2010.

The application filed through advocate C D Singh said the
decision to intervene in the matter was taken after a
high-level committee appointed by the state government
suggested that there were ample evidence against the accused
persons to be prosecuted for culpable homicide not amounting
to murder, which attract maximum punishment of 10 years

After CBI moved the apex court following the Bhopal
trial court ruling, the apex court had in August also sought
replies of seven accused on the CBI plea for restoration of
the charge of culpable homicide for the world`s worst
industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead and
thousands maimed.
Besides Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, the then Managing
Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, then Vice President, J N
Mukund, then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, then Production
Manager, K V Shetty, then Plant Superintendent and S I
Quereshi, then Production Assistant, were convicted and
sentenced to two years` jail term by a trial court in
Bhopal on June 7 this year.

The curative petition in the criminal case was filed
after a nation-wide outrage over the trial court judgement in
the 26-year-old case, following which the Centre appointed a
group of ministers (GoM) to recommend steps including ways to
get the punishment enhanced.

The charge under section 304 part-II was diluted to
section 304A by a bench comprising the then Chief Justice A
M Ahmadi and Justice S B Majmudar on the plea of the accused
in the 1984 gas disaster case.

CBI has sought reconsideration of the September 13, 1996,
apex court judgement which had whittled down the charge to
`causing death due to rash and negligent act` against Mahindra
and six others.

All the accused were tried as per the 1996 judgement of
the apex court under section 304A of Indian Penal Code which
attracts a maximum punishment of two years` imprisonment for
causing death by a rash and negligent act.

Government had on December 3, the anniversary of the
tragedy, moved the apex court also seeking enhancement of the
compensation from Rs 750 crore to Rs 7,700 crore for the

Madhya Pradesh government, in its application, said
as "parens patriae" (parents of the country) of its citizens
it is under a constitutional obligation to ensure that the
perpetrators of this heinous crime do not escape from legal

"Therefore, Madhya Pradesh government should be given an
opportunity to assist the apex court in the present curative
petition," the application said.

It said a committee of legal experts also suggested that
the Centre should file petition against the inadequacy of the
compensation before the Supreme Court against the judgement
and order of February 14, 1989, settling a compromise with the
amount of compensation at USD 470 Million.

"There is ample evidence on record which clearly shows
that the accused persons were having the knowledge that the
toxic gas might escape from the plant for the reason that
there were defects in the plant and machinery and no adequate
safety measures were implemented in the plant to avoid this
mishappening / tragedy," the application said.