Bhopal: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice AH Ahmadi, facing flak for the 1996 verdict in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, has offered to resign from the post of Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust chairman.
Speaking to a daily, the former CJI said, “I will send a fresh application to the new Chief Justice of India asking to be relieved of the responsibility, though my previous application was pending with former CJI KG Balakrishnan.”
Justifying his stand, Ahmadi said that he had not committed any impropriety by agreeing to head a multi-million dollar trust set up by the Union Carbide after the gas leak.
Justice Ahmadi, who headed the bench in 1996 that converted the CBI charge under the stringent provisions of 304-II that provided for maximum of 10-year imprisonment to Section with two-year maximum imprisonment, said it was easy for people to talk and make allegations but judges have to work as per the system.
A two-judge bench headed by then CJI Ahmadi reduced the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.
Giving his clarifications on the judgment, Justice Ahmadi rejected criticism of dilution of charge against Union Carbide executives in Bhopal gas tragedy case, saying in criminal law there was no concept of vicarious liability.
He also lamented the lack of a law to deal with disasters of Bhopal kind and said law can be amended to provide for adequate punishment.
Few days back, an organisation of Bhopal gas victims disputed Justice Ahmadi`s claim that no one had filed a review petition after the Supreme Court dropped charges of culpable homicide against the accused in the case.
"Our organisation had filed a review petition but that was dismissed in 1996 by the Supreme Court, which was then headed by Ahmadi himself," the convenor of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan, Abdul Jabbar had said.
As the guilty had not been charged under Section 304 of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), they were let off with imprisonment of only two years each, Jabbar claimed.
Justice Ahmadi, who had delivered the Bhopal gas tragedy case verdict in on June 09 1996, said he could not recollect whether a review petition was filed. However, he had earlier stated in a television interview that no review petition was filed.
Since retirement, Ahmadi has been presiding over Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust that runs a 350-bed superspeciality hospital. The trust was set up by Union Carbide.
A total of Rs 600 crore has gone into the trust, but its accounts are not in the public domain. The trust deed mandates that an SC judge should be its chairman and Ahmadi has been at its helm since retirement.