‘May 11 another black day in the history of Bhopal’

PTI New Delhi | Updated on May 11, 2011 Published on May 11, 2011

Social activists fighting for enhanced punishment to the accused in the Bhopal gas disaster today expressed dismay over the Supreme Court’s order dismissing the CBI’s curative petition and called it “another black day’’.

“Supreme Court today has heaped yet more injustice on victims who have already suffered it earlier — in 1989 on settlement (for compensation) and in 1996 after dilution of penal charges against the accused. May 11 is another black day in the history of Bhopal,” social activist Mr Satinath Sarangi told reporters soon after the apex court delivered its verdict.

Mr Sarangi alleged that the state organs, including judiciary, were not keen on justice to Bhopal gas victims.

“Why should people suffer because the CBI has not done its job well? The government machinery is not inclined to give justice to victims and this includes judiciary. It (court) could have seen that 1996 judgement equated the corporate massacre with a meagre traffic accident.”

“The message you are sending out to world is that you can come here, kill us and go back,” he added.

A five-judge constitutional Bench, headed by the Chief Justice, Mr S.H. Kapadia, today dismissed a curative petition filed by the CBI, seeking recall of the apex court’s September 1996 order which had diluted the stringent charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the Bhopal gas leakage tragedy accused and had ordered their trial for milder offence of causing death by rash and negligent acts.

While the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder entails up to ten years of jail term, the offence of causing death by a rash and negligent act fetches a maximum of two years’ jail term on conviction.

The leakage of the deadly Methyl Isocyanate gas from an Union Carbide plant at Bhopal on December 2-3 night in 1984 has left over 15,000 dead and tens of thousands others maimed for life.

The Additional Solicitor General, Ms Indira Jai Singh, however, saw a silver lining in the apex court’s verdict and said: “The judgment very categorically says that Sessions Court in revision case pending, can go ahead and frame charges under section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder or the unintentional killing) on the basis of the new evidence that has surfaced now. In that sense, it is positive.”

“The court has opened a door for prosecution of accused under charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder (304-II of IPC).... It is now up to the sessions court to decide and frame charges,” she said.

She said that “two years punishment (awarded by trial court earlier) is not enough”.

Published on May 11, 2011
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