Gas leak: Centre to file curative petition by July 15


Appeal to review 1996 Supreme Court judgment that diluted charges

The Centre, besides taking fresh efforts to seek the extradition of the former Union Carbide Chairman, Warren Anderson, will file a curative petition in the Supreme Court by July 15 for a review of its 1996 judgment that diluted the charges against the accused from culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 304-II) to criminal negligence (Section 304A) of IPC. The Centre had already accepted the recommendations of the Group of Ministers that the Central Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Ministries of External Affairs and Law and Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, should put together additional material in support of the request for Mr. Anderson’s extradition with the U.S. government.The Attorney-General is examining the materials in the government’s possession and is seeking various details and records to enable the government to file a proper curative petition once the Supreme Court reopens after summer vacation on July 5.

Mr. Vahanvati was of the view that although the trial against the nine accused in the gas leak case was for an offence under Section 304A, the evidence on record unmistakably “points to graver offences including an offence under Section 304 (II) IPC.”The curative petition will seek reconsideration of the judgment dated September 13, 1996. It will also seek reconsideration of the compensation amount earlier settled at $470 million.

In the judgments dated February 14/15, 1989 and May 4, 1989 and October 3, 1991, the Supreme Court recorded the settlement between the Union of India and UCC/Union Carbide India Ltd. which stated that the settlement had disposed of all past, present and future claims, causes of action and civil proceedings (of any nature whatsoever wherever pending) and all such claims and causes of action within or outside India of Indian citizens, public or private entitles are extinguished. However, the court had assured the parties at that time that “those who trust this court will not have cause for despair.”

The Centre will also file a revision petition before the Madhya Pradesh High Court against the trial court’s verdict (awarding a two-year sentence to the accused) with a direction to set aside the order. Alternatively, an appeal might be filed before the Sessions Court to correct the errors in the sentences imposed.

Applications might also be filed before the High Court to expeditiously decide the question of liability of Dow Chemical Company and/or any other successor to the UCC/UCIL. It was felt that once this question was decided, the various legal proceedings involving Dow Chemical Company and any other person or company found liable could be taken forward.It was pointed out that the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers had filed an application in the High Court in 2004 in a pending writ petition to direct the respondents Dow Chemical, UCC and Eveready Industries India Ltd. to deposit Rs. 100 crore for environmental remediation and the matter was still pending.

The liability of Dow was being contested in these proceedings and it was essential it be first settled before any proceedings could be taken against the company.


Report of Bhopal GOM

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