Bhopal gas tragedy: Moily exonerates govt, blames judiciary

Amid continuing blame-game, the then CJI A M Ahmadi was at the centre of controversy on Saturday.

Updated: Jun 12, 2010, 23:13 PM IST

New Delhi/Bangalore: Amid continuing
blame-game over the Bhopal gas tragedy, the then Chief Justice
of India A M Ahmadi was on Saturday at the centre of the controversy
with Law Minister Veerappa Moily saying the Supreme Court
verdict had reduced the incident to a "car accident".

Ahmadi, who is blamed for diluting the charges in the
case, reacted by saying that the government could not escape
the responsibility when such an incident happens.

The spat between Moily and Ahmadi came even as the then
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh continued to be
targeted by Congress leaders over Warren Anderson`s escape.

Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said Arjun
Singh had earlier admitted that the decision to allow Anderson
to leave the country was taken at state level and said he
should speak out so that the "names of others are not
unnecessarily dragged into the issue."

Singh remained incommunicado and did not even turn up at
a function organised by a media group to honour him with
`Lifetime Achievement Award` for his "contribution to Urdu

Moily regretted in Bangalore that judiciary had diluted
the the charges in the gas leakage case.

"CBI had filed charges under (IPC) Section 304 (II)
under which the maximum punishment is 10 years. But the
highest court (headed by Ahmadi), in a review petition,
converted it to 304 (A) which is actually meant for a car
accident, truck accident," the Law Minister told reporters in

Section 304 (II) of the IPC is culpable homicide not
amounting to murder while 304(A) is causing death due to

"The offence of this dimension, I am very sorry, it has
been reduced," Moily said.

Reacting to efforts to put the onus of responsibility on
him, Ahmadi said, "the government is always responsible. When
something of this nature happens to the people of the country,
does the government say it has no responsibility? I am unable
to understand that".

When his attention was drawn to experts and former CBI
officials dubbing the 1996 verdict diluting the charges as
absolutely wrong, the former CJI said "I cannot say anything
about it".

"The hue and cry is happening because people want to
raise the issue," Ahmadi said.

When asked about the remedies available to the CBI or
the Government, the former Chief Justice said, "I don`t see

On questions about his heading the Bhopal Memorial Trust
Hospital of the Union Carbide, he said he would write to Chief
Justice S H Kapadia, offering to step down.

He said he had made similar offer to previous Chief
Jutice K G Balakrishnan.

Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said all those
convicted should be brought to book.

On Anderson, she said he should be extradited as soon as
possible and hoped the government would take all necessary

Chaturvedi, a Congress Working Committee (CWC) member
who hails from Madhya Pradesh, insisted that Rajiv Gandhi had
no role in Anderson`s escape and pressed Arjun Singh to come
clean on the issue.

"Arjun Singh should break his silence and come forward
to tell whether he stands by the three statements he had made
after Anderson left the country, which clearly bring out the
fact that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had no role
into it," he told PTI.

Giving details of these statements, Chaturvedi said, "On
December 8, 1984, Arjun Singh had said that Anderson was
allowed to leave the country because the police felt his
presence was not required.

"On December 9, Singh said that there was no pressure
on him from anybody (to allow Anderson to fly out of the
country), while on December 14, he said he briefed the then
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the circumstances that led to
Anderson`s arrest and then leaving the country."

These three statements, Chaturvedi said, "clearly show
that Rajiv Gandhi had no role in this decision, which was
taken at the level of local administration and state

He said Arjun Singh should "endorse" these three
statements he made earlier, otherwise if he "has any new
facts, he should say".

Earlier yesterday, two other Congress leaders Digvijay
Singh and R K Dhawan said Arjun Singh should answer how
Anderson left the country.

Moily also attacked Rajiv Gandhi`s aide P C Alexander
for suggesting that the then prime minister may have had a
role in Anderson`s release, saying it was a "motivated
statement" as he had gone to "anti-Congress camp because he
was not considered for Presidentship".