This Article is From Jun 07, 2010

Bhopal tragedy: CBI statement on trial, investigation

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued a statement on the trial and the investigation in the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Following is the statement issued by them:

Shri Mohan P Tiwari, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal has convicted seven accused persons of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) factory at Bhopal and the company i.e. UCIL. The seven accused persons i.e. Keshub Mahindra, Former Chairman, UCIL; Vijay Gokhale, Former MD, UCIL; Kishore Kamdar, Former Vice President, UCIL; J Mukund, Former Works Manager, UCIL; S P Chaudhary, Former Production Manager, UCIL; K V Shetty, Plant Supdt., UCIL & S I Quereshi., Production Assistant, UCIL, Bhopal, have been sentenced to undergo two years imprisonment with a fine of Rs one lakh under section 304 A, IPC; three months of imprisonment & fine of Rs 250/- under section 336 IPC; six months of imprisonment with fine of Rs 500/- under section 337 IPC; and one year of imprisonment with a fine of Rs 1000/- under section 338 IPC. The eight convict i.e. Union Carbide India Limited has been fined with Rs five lakh under section 304 A IPC and Rs 250/-, Rs 500/- and Rs 1000/- respectively under sections 336, 337 and 338 IPC. In this regard, a criminal case was registered against twelve accused persons / companies.

On the night intervening 2nd and 3rd December, 1984, the leakage of Methyl Ico-Cyanate (MIC) gas from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) factory at Bhopal resulted in deaths of thousands of human beings and injuries to many more. A criminal case was initially registered at Police Station Hanumanganj, Bhopal on 02/12/84. On 06/12/84, CBI took over the investigation of the case and registered a case under sections 304 IPC, 326, 324, 429 IPC read with sections 35 IPC against Warren Anderson, Former Chairman, UCC, USA; Keshub Mahindra, Former Chairman, UCIL; Vijay Gokhale, Former MD, UCIL; Kishore Kamdar, Former Vice President, UCIL; J Mukund, Former Works Manager, UCIL; Dr RB Roy Chaudhary, Former Asst. Manager, UCIL; SP Chaudhary, Former Production Manager, UCIL; KV Shetty, Plant Supdt., UCIL; SI Quereshi, Production Assistant, UCIL, Bhopal; Union carbide Corporation (UCC), USA; Union Carbide (Eastern), Hong Kong, and Union Carbide India Limited.

After thorough investigation, CBI filed charge-sheet on 01/12/87. The investigation included painstaking efforts by CBI to get evidence from abroad (USA) as well as extradition of Mr Warren Anderson. The prosecution case was that apart from proximate reasons, there were a number of design defects and other criminally negligent operational practices which resulted in the leakage of MIC and these were in the knowledge of the management and were deliberately ignored for commercial reasons.

The court had taken cognizance on 6/07/88 and Warren Anderson was declared as an absconder. In the meantime, vide order dated 14/02/89, the Hon'ble Supreme Court quashed all proceedings relating to and arising out of Bhopal Gas disaster. However, on a petition filed by CBI, the aforesaid order was reviewed by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. The case was committed for trial to the Court of Sessions Judge Bhopal on 03/04/92 and the Sessions Court framed charges on 08/04/93 against all the nine accused except the absconders Warren Anderson, UCC, USA and UCC, Hong Kong. Non-bailable arrest warrants were issued by CJM Bhopal and CBI moved an extradition request to the United States on 08/09/93 for arrest and extradition of Warren Anderson. However, this request remains unexecuted. The charges were framed under sections 304, 324, 326, 429 IPC with or without the aid of section 35 of IPC. The defense went in an appeal to the High Court on 28/04/93 against the framing of charges and the trial was stayed. However, the revision petition was dismissed on 01/08/95. The Defence filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against framing of charges. The Hon'ble Supreme Court , vide an order dated 13/09/96, amended the charges to section 304A, 336, 337 and 338 IPC with or without section 35 IPC, i.e. mainly section 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) was replaced with section 304A IPC (causing death by negligence). Accordingly, revised charges were framed on CJM Bhopal on 29/08/97.

CBI had cited a total of 235 witnesses in the charge sheet. During the course of trial, CBI added 5 more witnesses. CBI closed prosecution evidence on 20/12/05 after examining 178 Prosecution Witnesses and exhibiting 3009 documents. Statements of the accused under section 313 CrPC commenced from 08/05/06 which continued till 22/12/07. Thereafter, the issues pertaining to recording of statements of 8 defense witnesses were dealt till 21/01/10 and final arguments commenced thereafter. One of the accused, Dr. R B Roy Chaudhary, died during the course of the trial and therefore, the case against him was abated.

The case was investigated by Shri P K Shukla, the then Dy. SP, CBI and the entire trial spread over 22 years was mostly conducted by Special counsel CBI Shri C Sahay, who was earlier Deputy Legal Advisor in CBI, assisted by a team of pairvi officers from CBI.