Bhopal gas tragedy verdict on June 7

The verdict on Bhopal Gas Tragedy which claimed thousands of lives, wii be pronounced on June 7.

Updated: May 13, 2010, 18:42 PM IST

Bhopal: Twenty-six years after one of the
worst industrial disasters, Bhopal Gas Tragedy which claimed
thousands of lives occurred, a local court trying the case
would pronounce its verdict on June 7.

The Chief Justice Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari today said he
will pronounce the judgment on June seven on the toxic leak
from the Bhopal factory of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL)
(now defunct), after the arguments of prosecution - CBI and
defence of eight accused drew to a close in the 23-year-old
trial.
During the trial, 178 prosecution witnesses were examined
and 3008 documents were exhibited.

CBI counsel C Sahay has argued that the tragedy occurred
due to defective design of the UCIL`s factory and poor
maintenance.

Sahay told the court that the Union Carbide Corporation,
USA, surveyed the UCIL`s Bhopal factory in 1982 and found
serious safety and maintenance lapses on nearly ten counts.

He contended that even after UCC experts` team visit
adequate safety measures and maintenance work did not take
place in the UCIL.

The prosecution argued that even the experts` team of the
central government which visited the UCIL plant, after the
toxic leak from it in 1984, found that safety norms and
maintenance work had not been properly carried out in the
factory.

Sahay has contended that the expert team has found the
design of the plant defective which too led to the tragedy.

On the other hand, the defence counsels D Prasad and Amit
Desai maintained that maintenance and safety norms were
properly adhered to in the UCIL`s Bhopal factory.

Refuting the CBI charge that lack of maintenance and
safety measures led to the world`s worst industrial disaster -
Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the defence counsels has argued that all
steps were adhered to keep the factory in a proper shape.

They said experts from Union Carbide Corporation, USA,
who had visited the Union Carbide of India Limited (UCIL)
Bhopal`s plant did not find any fault in the unit following
the death of a worker in 1982 - two years before the tragedy.

The defence contended that the UCIL was so much concerned
on safety front that after the death of one Mohammed Ashraf
Khan, it reported the matter to the UCC, USA which carried out
a safety audit.
After the UCC team`s visit, its recommendations to
further improve safety measures were taken care of in the
stipulated time. The defence counsels have also refuted the
charge that UCIL Bhopal was running into losses and as a
result of it, this unit was not in a proper shape.

Defence counsel Prasad told the court that the UCIL had
17 factories across the country and except Bhopal unit - all
other units were earning profit. The UCIL as a whole was
running in profit and its Bhopal unit staffers salary had been
hiked before the Gas tragedy took place.

He said there was no retrenchment in the UCIL`s Bhopal
unit and it had adequate work force.

The defence refuted the prosecution charge that the UCIL
had decided to dismantle and shift its Bhopal plant to foreign
country - Brazil or Indonesia - following financial losses and
therefore the factory was not in a good shape.

The defence said the prosecution`s theory that the
factory was being shifted was based on a written communication
between two officers - one of UCIL and another of Union
Carbide Eastern, Hong Kong, defence said.

The communication was just related to preliminary study
to look into feasibility of dismantling and shifting the unit,
the defence has argued. Such a big decision can not be taken
by two officers rather by the board of directors, they added.
The defence counsels contended that their clients were
not in any way responsible for the tragedy and also put forth
the accounts of the witnesses and documents.

The accused in the case include Keshub Mahendra, then
Chairman of UCIL, Vijay Gokhle, then Managing Director of
UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, then former vice president, UCIL,
Mumbai, J Mukund, then former Works Manager, UCIL, Mumbai, SP
Chouhary, then former Production Manager, UCIL, Mumbai, K V
Shetty, then Plant Superintendent, UCIL, Mumbai, SI Qureshi,
the then Production Assistants, UCIL, Mumbai.

The accused have been tried under IPC sections including
section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence, 336 (acts
endangering life or personal safety of others) amd 337
(causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of
others) of IPC.

Warren Anderson, former Chairman, Union Carbide
Corporation, USA is absconding in the case.

PTI