Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bhopal verdict - justice delayed AND denied

Skulls discarded after research at Hamidia Hospital. Medical experts believe the methyl isocyanate gas inhaled by people in Bhopal may have affected the brain. Photo: Raghu Rai.

Referring to the compensation to Bhopal gas victims, Dow Chemical's public affairs specialist Kathy Hunt said in public in 2002 that “$500 is plenty good for an Indian." The explanation for this may be that Hunt and Dow are racist. But what is wrong with us?

From The Times of India, June 8, 2010:

Appearing for CBI, then additional solicitor general Altaf Ahmed had argued before the SC that the accused knew about the potential danger of the lethal gas escaping and hence should be tried under the stringent provision.

"There was ample material produced by the prosecution in support of the chargesheet which indicated that all the accused shared common criminal knowledge about potential danger of escape of the lethal gas — MIC — both on account of the defective plant which was operated under their control and supervision at Bhopal and also on account of the operational shortcomings detected by the Varadarajan expert committee," Ahmed had said in court.

However, a bench comprising then Chief Justice A M Ahmedi and Justice S B Majmudar disagreed. "On our finding that the material pressed in service by the prosecution does not indicate even prima facie that the accused were guilty of an offence of culpable homicide and, therefore, Section 304-II was out of the picture, Section 304-A on this very finding can straightaway get attracted at least prima facie," the bench said. It then quashed the charge framed against the accused under Section 304-II.