Anderson extradition: Letters between CBI, MEA to be provided

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has directed the External Affairs Ministry to make public its communication with the CBI in relation to extradition of Bhopal Gas tragedy accused Warren Anderson from the US.

Former Joint Director of the agency B R Lal, who led the probe into the disaster during 1994-95, had claimed that MEA had asked the CBI not to follow Anderson's extradition.

An RTI applicant had sought to know the details of the MEA letter, claimed to be written during 1994-1996, asking CBI not to press for Anderson's extradition in connection with the Bhopal tragedy case which had left over 15,000 dead.

But the Ministry chose not to reply to the application thus violating provisions of the Right to Information Act which mandates the reply be sent within 30 days of such a request being received.

Applicant Abhishek Shukla then approached the Central Information Commission with a complaint against the Ministry.

"The Commission has decided to treat this petition as a complaint under section 18 of the RTI Act and hereby directs the Public Information Officer, Ministry of External Affairs to provide the information sought by the complainant," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit said in her order.

She directed the Ministry to comply with the directives by October 30.

"The complainant may also be allowed inspection of relevant files and be provided with attested copies of documents including file noting, if required, keeping in view provisions of section 8(1) and 9 of the RTI Act, free of cost," she said in her order.

Dixit also issued a show cause notice to the concerned officials asking them to explain reasons for not supplying the information within the mandated time period.

Earlier, in a separate decision, Dixit had also directed the ministry to "provide information" on the alleged safe passage promised to Bhopal gas tragedy accused Warren Anderson during his visit to the country.

Anderson, who visited the country three days after country's worst industrial disaster which took place on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 was booked by Bhopal Police under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC.

He secured bail from a local court and flew out of Bhopal on a state aircraft in 1984. Within hours of landing at Delhi, Anderson left for the US and remained elusive since then. CBI had moved for the extradition of Anderson after he was declared absconder in 1993.