New Delhi: A top Indian official Wednesday said there was no change in the government`s stand to follow the due legal process on the Bhopal Gas disaster, including fixing of criminal liabilities, despite possible US move to thwart the process.
"Our stand is clear. It remains what the home minister (P. Chidambaram) told parliament recently. There is no question of coming under any pressure whatsoever," the official said, when asked for his reaction to a purported comment made by a top US official.
The matter came to light after a news channel report on a purported e-mail from US Deputy National Security Advisor Micheal Froman to India`s Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montel Singh Ahluwalia on the issue of Dow Chemicals.
"While I`ve got you we are hearing a lot of noise about the Dow Chemicals issue. I trust that you are monitoring it carefully," Froman reportedly wrote in the e-mail when the plan panel deputy chief asked for his support for World Bank loans.
"I am not familiar with all the details but I think we want to avoid developments which put chilling effect on our investment relationship," the e-mail went on to add, clearly seeking to link India`s request at World Bank with the Bhopal gas disaster.
Twenty-five years ago, on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, at least 3,500 people were killed instantly and thousands more later after a deadly gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal.
Union Carbide was subsequently acquired by Dow Chemicals.
Ahluwalia had sought Forman`s help saying India had hit the limit set at the World Bank which will force it to cut its credit line to New Delhi drastically, unless the limit is relaxed.
He requested the official to speak with his colleagues at the US Treasury.
Reacting to this exchange, the top Indian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ahluwalia had already explained he was not connected in any manner with the process being followed on the Bhopal disaster case, including Anderson`s extradition.
He also said Chidambaram had also told Rajya Sabha Aug 12 in no uncertain terms that the government would pursue every effort for the extradition of Anderson, as also get proper trial of all those involved.
"We are not allowing anyone to go scot-free. They are disputing the liability and any disputed liability has to be settled in a properly constituted legal proceedings," the Home Minister had said, referring mainly to Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals.
"If there has been a commission, it is our commission. If there has been an omission, it is our omission. Why shift it to the United States and say the omissions and commissions of the successive governments are under the US pressure?"
This apart, the Central Bureau of Investigation has also moved the Supreme Court with a curative petition seeking a review of its 1996 judgment that diluted the charge against eight accused, including Anderson, in the 1984 disaster.
The agency also sent additional evidence to India`s foreign office against Anderson to support the case for his extradition.