GoM on Bhopal likely to approach SC for review

NEW DELHI: The possibility of government approaching the Supreme Court with a curative petition against the dilution of charges in the Bhopal gas leak case is understood to have found wide support in the Group of Ministers (GoM) which met here for the second day on Saturday.

The GoM, which is expected to finalise its report for the Prime Minister on Monday, discussed all the pending legal issues and options before it.

The curative petition issue is said to be high on the priority list of the GoM in the light of countrywide outrage that was witnessed after the June 7 judgement of the Bhopal trial court which gave two years imprisonment to all the accused, sources said.

Experts said that the Bhopal court had no option but to give the light sentence after the Supreme Court had diluted the charges against the accused from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to negligence under the IPC.

Another legal issue that came up but a decision is yet to be taken relates to the demand for seeking extradition of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson to face trial here in the case of Bhopal gas leak disaster in which over

15,000 lives were lost in December 1984. Anderson’s exit from India on December 7 in the aftermath of the disaster has also triggered another major controversy over who was responsible for the "safe passage." The Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram, who heads the reconstituted GoM, said after Saturday’s meeting, "We discussed all pending legal issues and legal options available to the government after the judgement of the trial court."

The GoM heard all concerned and reached some "tentative conclusions," he said adding "these conclusions" will be firmed up in the report to be submitted to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Monday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, Mr Ashwani Kumar was called by the Group of Ministers on Saturday for discussing the possibility of reinvestigating the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed more than 15,000 people in 1984. Sources said Mr Kumar was called for the second session of GoM meeting when the pros and cons of reopening the case were considered in the light of the accused getting away with light punishment.

The nine-member GoM was reconstituted on June 7 amid raging controversy over the quantum of punishment given to those accused in the case, with the political class in unison terming it as "too little, too late." It began its meetings from Friday.

Among various issues, the GoM is considering increase in compensation for those affected by the 1984 disaster. The Planning Commission has already approved a package of Rs 982 crore for the gas disaster victims.

In its third session on Saturday evening, the GoM discussed the way the Bhopal Memorial Hospital, set up after the gas tragedy, should function in the future. "We have heard everyone concerned and we will form some conclusions about how the Bhopal Memorial Hospital should be run in the future," Mr Chidambaram said.

The government is expected to move the Supreme Court seeking control of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital which is currently being run by a trust headed by former Chief Justice of India Mr Justice A M Ahmadi. This option was deliberated on at the third session of the Group of Ministers.

Categories: National News
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