Bhopal gas tragedy: Government files curative petition (Lead)

August 2nd, 2010 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) The CBI Monday moved the Supreme Court with a curative petition seeking a review of its 1996 judgment which had diluted the charge against the eight accused in 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, saying it was an attempt to set right “gross miscarriage and perpetuation of irremediable injustice” to the victims and the nation.
The apex court in its 1996 judgment had diluted the charges from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.

The government has sought the restoration of charges under Section 304-II of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that provides for imprisonment up to ten years for an offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Under Section 304-A, causing death by negligence, the accused upon conviction could be awarded maximum sentence of two years.

The controversial judgment of 1996 was delivered by the bench headed by the then Chief Justice A.M. Ahmadi. Following this judgment, the eight accused including former Union Carbide chairman of Indian operations Keshub Mahindra were tried under 304-A.

On June 7, the trial court in Bhopal convicted all of them and awarded two years sentence. They were granted bail soon after. Their petition challenging the trial court verdict is pending.

The CBI in its curative petition has said that the apex court while quashing the charges against the accused under Section 304-II did not give any consideration to the material placed before it by the investigating agency.

In the course of trial, categorical evidence has now come to light, which unequivocally points to the commission of offences under Section 304 Part II of the IPC by the accused, the petition said.

This has “resulted in a colossal failure of justice. This failure of justice adversely affects not only the victims in particular but also the society and the nation as a whole”, the curative petition said.

“This Curative Petition is an attempt by the state to set right this gross miscarriage and perpetuation of irremediable injustice being suffered by the victims in particular, the society at large, and the nation as a whole”.

The petition said that the perpetrators behind the December 1984 leakage of hazardous Methyl Isocynate (MIC) gas in the Union Carbide plant should not be able to walk away with a minimal punishment of two years in one of world’s biggest industrial catastrophes.

The petition further contended that “the state must do its duty if the perpetrators of such heinous crimes seek to get away with minimal charges and punishment despite voluminous evidence to show the commission of offences under Section 304 Part II of the IPC”.

Referring to a quotation that the dead cannot cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so for them, the curative petition said, “…the present case is one of the rarest of rare cases where the inherent power of this court (apex court) is being invoked by the state in public interest to address and remedy errors apparent on the face of record in the judgment and order dated 13.09.1996″.

The curative petition said that the “deliberate omission on the part of the Respondents/accused persons to rectify grave and hazardous defects is not a mere rash or negligent act but done with the knowledge that the consequence of such acts may result in death”.

The accused had the knowledge about the inherent defects in the plant despite which no rectification action was taken and there were defects in maintenance and operations of the plant also, it said.

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