Apex court refuses to re-open Bhopal gas case

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

Survivors of the Gas disaster take part in protest rally : Photo: A.M. Faruqui

In a setback to those seeking stringent punishment for the accused in the Bhopal gas disaster, the Supreme Court today dismissed the CBI's curative petition against an earlier apex court judgment that diluted charges against the accused.

A five-judge Constitutional Bench, headed by the Chief Justice, Mr S. H. Kapadia, however, left a window of opportunity open saying the pending proceedings before the Sessions court against the Chief Judicial Magistrate's judgment awarding two years sentence to the accused, including the Union Carbide India Chairman, Mr Keshub Mahindra, will not be influenced by any order passed by it.

The Bench said that the CBI and the Madhya Pradesh government have failed to come out with a satisfactory explanation on filing the curative petition after a lapse of 14 years.

The unanimous order was passed by the Bench that included Justices Mr Altamas Kabir, Mr R.V. Raveendran, Mr B. Sudershan Reddy and Mr Aftab Alam.

The CBI and the Madhya Pradesh government filed the curative petitions after a public outcry over what was considered a mild punishment for a tragedy that claimed over 15,000 lives in December 1984 and had left several thousands maimed by the leakage of deadly Methyl Isocyanate gas.

In 1996, a two-judge Bench of the apex court, headed by the then Chief Justice Mr A.H. Ahmadi had diluted the charges against the accused from Section 304 Part II of the IPC providing for a maximum of 10 years imprisonment to Section 304(A) that deals with rash and negligence act with a maximum punishment of two years.

The CBI and the Madhya Pradesh government have filed revision petitions in the Sessions court against the judgment of the CJM, Bhopal, which had awarded two years jail term to various accused in the Bhopal gas tragedy case.

In its plea, the CBI had sought restoration of stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead of death caused due to negligence against the accused in the world's worst industrial disaster.

Published on May 11, 2011

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