New Delhi: The government today said it will
aim at preventing a repeat of Bhopal gas leak case, a verdict
on which a storm is raging on the light punishment given to
With the government coming under pressure on the issue,
Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the new National Litigation
Policy, released today, proposed a stringent monitoring and
review mechanism for all government litigations so that cases
such as the Bhopal gas tragedy are noticed before it was too
In its verdict early this month, a local court in Bhopal
had sentenced seven convicted persons to two years jail
following the Supreme Court judgement reducing the charges in
the case was attacked.
Under the National Litigation Policy that would come into
effect from July 1 this year, Moily said the government would
categorise and group court cases so that those contesting on
behalf of the government could prioritise them.
"If this (mechanism) is in place, ultimately, constant
review, prioritising and categorisation will track everything.
Maybe cases like the Bhopal one will not be repeated in this
country. That is the target of this (policy)," he said.
The Minister also noted that "a sensitised and sensitive"
government would represent all these cases so that there was
"no delay or neglect" at any stage (in cases like the Bhopal
Moily said these systems will be in place so that the
delay witnessed in the Bhopal case did not become a norm as
"justice delayed is justice buried."
Asked about the curative petition that the Group of
Ministers (GOM) on the Bhopal case was considering, Attorney
General G E Vahanvati, who was present, said the Law Minister
had only made "a suggestion" before the GOM and it was not "a
Vahanvati said the GOM`s report had to first go to the
Cabinet, which had to approve the suggestion.
He claimed the 1996 Supreme Court order in the Bhopal gas
leak case was "wrong as a matter of law."
Based on the available evidence, the Supreme Court had in
1996 reduced the charge against the accused in the Bhopal case
from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing
death by negligence.
"I am not criticising the judgement....I am entitled to
tell you that it is wrong. I say it as a matter of law. I
believe there are contradictions in the judgement and there
are lots of material that have come up post that judgement,"
Vahanvati pointed to evidence that people knew there was
a flaw in the (Union Carbide) plant and as a matter of economy
they did not rectify the flaws.
He said the curative petition was a mechanism created by
the Supreme Court itself to correct its own errors and
eliminate injustice caused by its earlier orders.