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Legally, case against Anderson still on, can be tried: Moily

In the wake of outrage over failure to get former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson extradited to India, the government on Tuesday asserted that the case against him in connection with the Bhopal gas tragedy was not over and he can be procured and tried.



New Delhi: In the wake of outrage over failure to get former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson extradited to India, the government on Tuesday asserted that the case against him in connection with the Bhopal gas tragedy was not over and he can be procured and tried.

Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, however, refused to
discuss the implications of the Bhopal gas disaster case
verdict on the current debate over the Civil Nuclear Liability
Bill.

The Bill`s detractors fear it has no provisions for
making foreign suppliers pay adequate compensation in case of
disasters.

"No. Legally and technically, we can`t say it (the case
against Anderson) is over. The case against him is still
on...suppose he can be obtained, he can still be tried," Moily
said here.

He said the name of Anderson figured in the chargesheet
filed by the CBI in the case.

"The investigation officer files charge sheet before the
court. As per the criminal justice system, if the accused
fails to appear before the court, they are entitled to declare
the person as a proclaimed offender...this is the case here
also as he has been declared as a proclaimed offender," he
said.

Maintaining that the case is not over, the Law Minister
said in case he can be "obtained" he can still be tried.

In 2003, a request for extradition of Anderson was
made to the US side under India-US bilateral extradition
treaty. This request has already been reiterated on more than
one occasion, MEA sources said today.

Asked whether government was making or would make
efforts to extradite Anderson, he said he could not comment on
the issue.

"I don`t know whether the Central government can
intervene at this stage," he said when asked whether the
Centre could do something in a case where the justice came too
late and the quantum of punishment was too little.

Moily explained that earlier the CBI had filed a
chargesheet under Section 304 (II) under which the maximum
punishment is 10 years.

"But after the case was agitated by the accused, the
matter went to the Supreme Court which said it was not proper
to file charges under Section 304 (II) and it has to be framed
under Section 304 (A) where the maximum punishment is two
years," he said.

On the quantum of punishment given in yesterday`s
verdict, he said, "Prima facie I don`t see there is much scope
for agitating over the matter again for conversion of the case
under Section 304 (II) because the matter has already been
agitated upto the (level of) the Supreme Court."

When asked whether the government was having a relook
at the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill in the wake of the
gas tragedy verdict, he said the matter was already before a
Parliamentary Standing Committee and "I would not like to make
a comment on it."

Yesterday, he had told reporters a lot of lessons
needed to be learnt from the Bhopal case while looking at
questions, investigation, liability, compensation and
punishment. He was replying to a question whether the
government would heed the message of Bhopal while finalising
the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill.

Nearly 26 years after world`s worst industrial
disaster left over 15,000 dead, former Union Carbide India
Chairman Keshub Mahindra and six others were yesterday
sentenced to two years imprisonment. The outcome of the case
came under attack from civil rights activists and political
parties.

89-year-old Anderson, the then chairman of Union
Carbide Corporation of USA, who lives in the United States,
appeared to have gone scot-free for the present as he is still
an absconder and did not subject himself to trial. There was
no word about him in the judgement of the Bhopal court.

PTI

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