Bhopal gas tragedy: SC reserves order on harsher punishment
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved
its judgement on the plea of CBI for prosecuting Bhopal gas
tragedy case accused, who have escaped with lighter punishment
of two years jail term, under the stringent penal provision
attracting maximum ten years of imprisonment.
The bench headed by the Chief Justice S H Kapadia will
pass its verdict over the petition seeking to recall the apex
court's 14-year-old judgment that had diluted the charges
against the accused who were prosecuted just for the offence
of being negligent.
The bench, which also consisted of justices Altamas
Kabir, R V Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and Aftab Alam, asked
the concerned parties to file their written submissions within
a week in this case.
In its plea, CBI has sought restoration of stringent
charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead of
death caused due to negligence against the accused in world's
worst industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead
and thousands maimed.
The apex court has heard the case on a day-to-day
basis and it would now hear the plea for enhancement of
compensation from Rs 750 crore to Rs 7,700 crore for the
In this matter, Madhya Pradesh government has also moved
apex court seeking its permission to intervene in the petition
filed by CBI to re-examine September 1996 judgement by which
the accused persons were tried for the offence of criminal
negligence which resulted in a lighter punishment of two
years' jail term of several accused, including former Union
Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra, on June 7, 2010.
Keshub Mahindra has opposed CBI's plea arguing that
the case should be decided on the basis of law and not on the
basis of facts.
The apex court had on August 31 last decided to
re-examine its own judgement that led to lighter punishment of
two years imprisonment for all the seven convicts.
Besides Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, the then Managing
Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, then Vice President, J N
Mukund, then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, then Production
Manager, K V Shetty, then Plant Superintendent and S I
Quereshi, then Production Assistant were convicted and
sentenced to two years' jail term by a trial court in Bhopal
on June 7 last year.
The verdict had sparked a nationwide outrage, leading
to the government setting up a group of ministers and filing
of a curative petition against the lighter punishment for
those responsible for the gas tragedy.