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UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM AND ENERGY STUDIES COLLEGE OF LEGAL STUDIES DEHRADUN LEGAL METHOD AND LEGAL REASONONG MASS TORT: BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY SUBMITTED TO - SUBMITTED BY - Ms. Shikha Dimri NAME- ANJALI BHATT SAP ID- (500012004)

Bhopal Gas Tragedy Project

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Page 1: Bhopal Gas Tragedy Project

UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM AND ENERGY STUDIES

COLLEGE OF LEGAL STUDIES

DEHRADUN

LEGAL METHOD AND LEGAL REASONONG

MASS TORT: BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY

SUBMITTED TO - SUBMITTED BY -

Ms. Shikha Dimri NAME- ANJALI BHATT

SAP ID- (500012004)

SEC - A

COURSE – BBA LLB

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INDEX

INTRODUCTION

What is a tort?

Difference between a crime and a tort.

Constituents of tort

General

Wrongful act

Damage

Remedy

Classifications of tort

Mass tort

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

History of Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal

Trial of Bhopal Gad incident

Group of ministers

The Receding Prospects of Justice for Bhopal

Misplaced Commentary

Latest news on the case

Conclusion

INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS A TORT?

Tort means a breach of some duty independent of contract giving rise to a civil cause of action

and for which compensation is recoverable. The person committing a tort or wrong is called a

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tort feasor or wrong doer, and his misdoing is a tortious act. The principal aim of the law of torts

is compensation of victims or their dependants.1

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CRIME AND A TORT

Tort is an infringement or privation of the private or civil rights belonging to individuals

whereas a crime is a breach of public rights and duties which affect the whole

community.

In tort, the wrongdoer has to compensate the injured party whereas, in crime he is

punished by the State in the interests of the society.

In tort, the action is brought by the injured party but in crime, the proceedings are

conducted in the name of the State and the guilty person is punished by the State.

CONSTITUENTS OF TORT

General

Wrongful act

Damage

Remedy

General

The law of torts is fashioned as “an instrument for making people adhere to standards of

reasonable behavior and respect the rights and interests of one another”.2 By “ interest” here is

meant “a claim, want or desire of a human being or group of human beings which the human

being or the group of human being seeks to satisfy.” It is however, obvious that every want or

desire of a person cannot be protected nor can a person claim that whenever he suffers loss he

should be compensated by the person who is the author of the loss.3 The law, therefore

determines what interests need protection and it also holds the balance when there is a conflict of

1 G.Williams, The aims of the Law of Torts, (1951) 4 Current Legal Problems, 137.2 SETALVAD, Common Law in India3 “But acts or omissions which any moral code would censure cannot in a practical world be treated so as to give a

right to every person injured by them to demand relief. In this way rules of law arise which limit the range of

complaints and the extent of their remedy.”

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protected interests.4 A protected interest gives rise to a legal right which in turn gives rise to a

corresponding legal duty. Some legal rights are absolute in the sense that mere violation of them

leads to the presumption of legal damage. There are other legal rights where there is no

presumption and actual damage is necessary to complete the injury which is redressed by the

law.

Wrongful Act

An act which infringes a legal right is a wrongful act. “The act complained of should, under the

circumstances, be legally wrongful as regards the party complaining; that is, it must prejudicially

affect him in some legal right; merely that it will, however directly, do him harm in his interest is

not enough.”5

An act which, prima facie, appears to be innocent may become tortious, if it invades the legal

right of another person. A familiar instance is the erection on one’s own land of anything which

obstructs the light to a neighbour’s house. It is, no doubt, lawful to erect what one pleases on

one’s own land; but if by twenty years’ enjoyment, the neighbor has acquired the legal right to

the unobstructed transmission of the light across that land, the erection of any building which

substantially obstructs it is an invasion of the right, and so not only does damage, but is unlawful

and injurious.

Damage

“Damage” means the harm or loss suffered or presumed to be suffered by a person as a

result of some wrongful act of another. The sum of money awarded by court to compensate

“damage” is called “damages”.

From the point of view of presumption of damage, rights are classified into (1) absolute and (2)

qualified. When an absolute right is violated the law conclusively presumes damage although the

person wronged may have suffered no pecuniary loss whatsoever. The damage so presumed is

4 For example: privileged occasions, where the interests of the person defamed in his reputation is subordinated to

the interest of the person defaming in the exercise of freedom of speech on these occasions.5 Rogers v. Rajendro Dutt, (1860) 8 MIA 103 (136) : 13 MOORE PC 209. An empty threat to prosecute is not

actionable : Banwari Lal v. Municipal Board, Lucknow, (1941) OWN 864 : AIR 1941 Oudh 572 : 1941 OLR 542.

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called legal damage. Violation of absolute right is, therefore, actionable per se, i.e., without

proof of any damage. In case of qualified rights, there is no presumption of legal damage and the

violation of such rights is actionable only on proof of actual or special damage. In other words,

in case of an absolute right, the injury or wrong, i.e., the tortious action, is complete the moment

the right is violated irrespective of whether it is accompanied by any actual damage, whereas in

case of a qualified right, the injury or wrong is not complete unless the violation of the right

results in actual or special damage.

REMEDY

Tort is a civil injury, but all civil injuries are not torts. The wrongful act must come under the

category of wrongs for which the remedy is a civil action for damages. The essential remedy for

a tort is an action for damages, but there are other remedies also, e.g., injunction may be obtained

in addition to damages in certain cases of wrongs. Where there is dispossession of land, the

plaintiff in addition to damages also claims to recover the land itself. But it is principally the

right to damages that brings such wrongful acts within the category of torts. There also exists a

large number of unauthorized acts for which only a criminal prosecution can be instituted.

Further, damages claimable in a tort action are unliquidated damages.

The law of torts is said to be a development of the maxim ubi jus ibi remedium(there is no

wrong without a remedy). Jus signifies here the ‘legal authority to do or to demand something;

and remedium may be defined to be the right of action, or the means given by the law, for

recovery or assertion of a right.’ The maxim does not mean, as it is sometimes supposed, that

there is a legal remedy for every moral or political wrong. If this were its meaning, it would be

manifestly untrue. There is no legal remedy for the breach of a solemn promise not under seal

and made without consideration.6

CLASSIFICATION OF TORTS

PERSONAL WRONGS

-Wrongs affecting safety and freedom of the person: Assault, battery, false

imprisonment .

6 Under Indian Law there is no legal remedy for the breach of a solemn promise made without consideration whether under seal or not.

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-Wrongs affecting personal relations in the family: Seduction, enticing away of servants.

-Wrongs affecting reputation: Slander and libel.

-Wrongs affecting estate generally: Deceit, slander of title, fraudulent competition by

colourable imitation, malicious prosecution, conspiracy.

WRONGS TO PROPERTY

-Trespass: (a) to land

(b) to goods

-Interference with right analogous to property, such as private franchises, patents, copy

rights, trademarks.

WRONGS TO PERSON, ESTATE AND PROPERTY GENERALLY

-Nuisance

-Negligence

-Breach of absolute duties specially attached to the occupation of fixed property, to the

ownership and custody of dangerous things, and to the exercise of certain public callings.

MASS TORT

WHAT IS MASS TORT?

A mass tort is a civil action involving numerous plaintiffs against one or a few corporate

defendants in state or federal court. As the name implies a mass tort includes many plaintiffs and

law firms have used the mass media to reach possible plaintiffs. Mass torts may include mass

disaster torts, mass toxic torts and product liability torts.

We will be mainly dealing with toxic torts.

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A toxic tort is one in which the wrongful act consists of exposure to a toxic substance. This could

occur in a variety of ways, such as an accidental release (e.g. a chemical spill or explosion),

workplace exposure (e.g. to solvent fumes or asbestos), or harmful effects from medications or

other consumer products.

The injury in a toxic tort case may be “acute” (immediate) – fatal poisoning or burns to the skin

are acute injuries. Classically, however, the injury involved in toxic tort ligitation is a serious

latent disease, such as cancer or birth defects, that may not develop until many years after the

toxic exposure. In cases involving latent disease, there is virtually always a dispute over

causation. The plaintiff has the difficult burden of providing that the disease resulted from the

particular exposure, which may have occurred ten or twenty years earlier, rather than from some

other cause (e.g., genetic inheritance, smoking, lack of exercise, diet, some other toxic exposure,

or simply from “unknown causes”.)

Courts can grant a variety of remedies in toxic tort cases that can benefit public health. For

example, where toxic wastes leach from a disposal facility and contaminate a public water

supply, a court can require the facility's owner to clean up the contamination, pay for an

alternative safe water supply, and pay for medical care of anyone who develops disease from the

contamination. Moreover, the desire to avoid tort liability may persuade facilities to exercise

greater care to prevent the escape of toxic wastes.

Toxic tort lawsuits are sometimes initiated soon after a toxic exposure—especially a mass

exposure—even though the plaintiffs have no physical symptoms of disease. Plaintiffs have

argued, without much success, that they should receive present compensation because the

exposure increases their risk of developing cancer in the future, and also for the emotional

distress caused by their fear of future cancer. Courts have been more receptive to the argument

that exposure victims should be compensated for the expense of periodic medical monitoring.

Courts have reasoned that monitoring awards will foster early detection and treatment, which

would help eliminate or mitigate future disease.

There have also been many occupational toxic tort cases, because industrial and other workers

are often chronically exposed to toxic chemicals - more so than consumers and residents.

Thousands of toxic chemicals are used in industry and workers in these areas can experience a

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variety of toxic injuries. Unlike the general population, which is exposed to trace amounts of

thousands of different chemicals in the environment, industrial workers are regularly exposed to

much higher levels of chemicals and therefore have a greater risk of developing disease from

particular chemical exposures than the general population.

Toxic tort cases also arise when people are exposed to consumer products such as pesticides and

suffer injury.

One of the biggest examples of the mass toxic tort is the BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY incident.

The age of mass tort arrived with BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY unveiling the environment.

BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY

On the night intervening 2nd and 3rd December, 1984, there occurred in Bhopal the most tragic

industrial disaster in which thousands of persons lost their lives and lakhs of people suffered

injuries of various kinds. On a clear night, with little wind and no rain expected, the worst

nightmare was unleashed on the unsuspecting people of Bhopal. Workers, on the night shift in

the plant detected a faint smell of boiled cabbage (associated with MIC), but they ignored it.

What they did not know was that shoddy maintenance and poor safety precautions had meant

that water was leaking into tank 410, carrying 40 tons of MIC, and a violent reaction was about

to take place. When a few workers dared to venture out towards that tank, they felt the rumble

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under their feet and in a few moments, the tank burst out of its concrete casing and exploded,

sending a deadly cloud of MIC into the air. The prevailing wind at ground level sent the cloud

swirling across the surrounding slums and into the city of Bhopal.

This was the first time that an accident had occured in a Union carbide plant. In the Indian plant

itself, one of the workers, Ranjit Singh, had died in 1981 of exposure to MIC when a few drops

of it fell on his clothing and he removed his safety mask a little too early. Compensation was

paid, the event was hushed up and there was little to indicate that this was more than an isolated

aberration. However, in the 80s the plant started running at a loss due to diminishing demand for

Sevin and hence was forced to cut back on costs. Unfortunately, the person responsible for

cutting costs did not know the first thing about chemicals and ended up getting rid of all the

safety mechanisms, including the all important flare to burn off any escaping MIC in case of a

leak. Between 1981 and 1984, six such leaks were documented, but did not lead to any deaths,

according to a subsequent report by the Madhya Pradesh government. In the American plant

manufacturing 'Sevin' as well, over 28 such leaks were documented, but the information wasn't

released for the fear of causing an uproar in the local community. The Bhopal plant, in 1984, had

ceased to conform to any international safety standards and Indian standards being non-existent,

it continued to cut back on safety.

Around 570,000 people were affected because of the incident. This massive figure includes

approximately 5,000 who died instantly and several hundred thousand maimed for life, including

children born with defects arising from the disaster. Such a large number almost matches,

another tragedy - the bombing of Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

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WHOM DID THE UNION CARBIDE CORPORATION BLAME ON

AFTER THE TRAGEDY?

Instead of accepting responsibility and seeking to compensate the victims, UCC tried to pass the

buck to everybody else and kept pushing responsibility away, in a bid to maintain a 'clean' image

among its customers. It first blamed the Indian government for not having proper regulatory

mechanisms, then blamed the employees of UCIL for not having taken proper care, and when

these two did not work, it came up a mysterious sabotage theory, which to this day it sticks to,

yet does not name any employee who allegedly committed this sabotage.

The Bhopal gas tragedy also had several legal aspects to it, which are very interesting as well.

The lawsuit against UCC, claiming damages for the victims was first filed in New York District

Court. In the Bhopal litigation there was an embarrassing litigation brought by the Indian Legal

system itself. It was the Rajiv Gandhi government who screwed up on Bhopal case. As the initial

reports of pending flood of litigation claims started to trickle through, the Indian Government,

fearing exploitation, and an opportunity to turn this into emotive, electoral issue, instantly

passed a law prohibiting all but itself from representing the victims in any forum in the world.

Then it went ahead and made a mockery of the move. It filed a suit in the district court of New

York, USA. Before even the first papers had been filed, then the prime minister Rajiv Gandhi

started making grandiose claims of a $2 billion compensation that his government would be

seeking from Union Carbide Corporation.

Any lawyer would connect this statement to the filing of the case in USA and ask the American

court to dismiss the case since the Indian Government was “forum shopping” or in lay terms

simply looking for the best bargain. To counter, the Indian government made an even more

stupid move. It claimed that the Indian judicial system was incompetent and inefficient to deal

with the problem. Naturally no American court wanted to be stuck with an expensive, unending

case on its hands and the district court of New York threw out the case. The Indian government

cut a pretty sorry figure as it dragged itself to the district court of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh for

the next round of litigation. Before the same judicial system and judges it claimed were

incompetent and inefficient.7

7 http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/mass_tort_litigation/2007/12/bhopal-revisite.html

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This was upheld by the US Supreme Court as well and the case was finally filed in the Bhopal

District Court in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

While the Bhopal case was being argued in the High Court, the Supreme Court of India, in a

separate poisonous gas leak case, came up with a new doctrine which could be used in the

Bhopal case as well and that was absolute liability. The doctrine of absolute liability, which was

laid down in the case of MC Mehta v. Union of India, where the leak of oleum gas had killed a

few people near the factory, stated that any emissions from the premises of a factory or

establishment engaged in the manufacture or storage of such harmful substances would make the

owner of such establishment absolutely liable for any damage arising out of such escape. Unlike

the previous doctrine of strict liability which governed damages arising out of such incidents,

this doctrine allowed no defences whatsoever for such an incident and is similar to the "polluter

pays" principle in environmental law in the US.

HISTORY OF UNION CARBIDE PLANT IN BHOPAL

There is an interesting history behind the setting up of the plant, and it is intricately linked to the

'Green Revolution' that was underway in India in the 70s. The increasing emphasis using high-

yield varieties of seeds and chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to ensure self-sufficiency in grain

meant that India became a huge consumer of these products, leading to a severe shortage within

the country itself. Foreign multinationals, such as Union Carbide, saw the massive potential to

sell such pesticides and fertilizers to the country's 300 million or so farmers. One of these

products was the 'miracle' pesticide 'Sevin' which, while not being as polluting as DDT, was

equally effective against numerous kinds of pests, and hence was in great demand in many Third

World countries at that time, India being no exception. In the government of the day as well,

Union Carbide's proposal to build the plant at Bhopal was welcomed and permission granted

readily. Bhopal was chosen primarily because of its central location, good access to resources

and easy communications with the rest of India.

But instead of promoting Green Revolution in the country it devastated the country and totally

changed the face of Bhopal.

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The disaster at Bhopal, has everywhere become a synonym for industrial catastrophes and the

hazards of 'development'.

TRIAL OF THE BHOPAL GAS INCIDENT

After a trial lasting more than two decades, the judgement on Bhopal Gas tragedy, pronounced as

on 7th june 2010. Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari pronounced the judgment after a 23-

year-long trial .During the trial, a total of 178 prosecution witnesses were examined and 3008

documents were produced while eight defence witnesses deposed in the court. Out of the nine

accused tried for the offences, R B Roy Choudhary, the then former Assistant Works Manager

Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), Mumbai died during the trial.

The remaining eight accused in the case are Keshub Mahendra, the then UCIL chairman, Vijay

Gokhle, the then managing director, Kishore Kamdar, the then vice president, J Mukund, the

then works manager, S P Choudhary, the then Production Manager, K V Shetty, the then plant

superintendent, S I Quershi, the then production assistant of UCIL and UCIL Calcutta.

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The three accused -- the then chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of USA Warren

Anderson, besides Union Carbide Corporation, USA and Union Carbide Eastern, Hong Kong --

escaped the trial.

FIR in the tragedy was filed on December 3, 1984 and the case was transferred to CBI on

December 6, 1984. The CBI filed the charge sheet after investigation on December 1, 1987.

The accused have been held guilty under sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 336,

337 and 338 (gross negligence), and 35 (common intention) of the India Penal Code.

They have also been fined under section 304-A (causing death by negligence), given

imprisonment of three months and a fine of Rs250 under section 336, six months and Rs500

under section 337 and two years and Rs1,000 under section 338.

The sentences will run concurrently. Eyebrows have been raised at the quantum of fine that chief

judicial magistrate Mohan P Tiwari of the trial court in Bhopal has imposed. A lawyer said the

court could have awarded exemplary fine on the accused and the delinquent company. “There is

no legal bar on awarding a hefty fine on the company and the accused. The CBI must challenge

the judgment to raise the amount of fine,” he said.

WARREN ANDRESON, as the Union Carbide CEO at the time of the disaster, was charged with

manslaughter in the Bhopal disaster case. He travelled to India with a promise from Indian

authorities that he would not be arrested. However, authorities placed Anderson in custody.

Anderson posted bail, returned to the US, and has refused to return to India.

He was declared a fugitive from justice by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal on February

1, 1992, for failing to appear at the court hearings in a culpable homicide case in which he was

named the chief defendant. The chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal, Prakash Mohan Tiwari,

issued an arrest warrant for Anderson on July 31, 2009. The United States has declined to

extradite him, citing a lack of evidence.

In August 2009, a spokesman for Union Carbide said "Union Carbide had no role in operating

the plant at the time as the factory was owned, managed and operated by employees of Union

Carbide India Limited." Eight former senior employees of this subsidiary were found guilty on

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June 7, 2010. After these convictions, a Union Carbide spokesperson said, "All the appropriate

people from UCIL -- officers and those who actually ran the plant on a daily basis -- have

appeared to face charges."

Indian government too seems to be in denial mode as far as bringing justice to those thousands of

people affected by the tragedy. David Headley is being tried by all hooks and crook to be

punished for his possible involvement in the killing of 200 people in 26/11 Mumbai terrorists

attack but the main culprits of Bhopal Gas Tragedy or killer of more than 20,000 people are

walking scot-free and government is not trying to bring those culprits to book of justice.

Affected people are blaming the government that Anderson is a corporate tycoon and political

parties gain financially to fight elections from businessmen. If they do not get justice,

government intention will remain in questions.

All this is happening before the government under different political parties. In these 26 years the

Congress and the BJP have been in power in the state but have done nothing to bring those

culprits to book of justice. Compensations have been insufficient to those survivors struggling

for their lives because of killer diseases not to talk of the dead ones.

Now, there is one more risky business waiting in to come into force. Nuclear plant has to be set

up on Indian land on the line of Union Carbide. In case of mishap government has prepared

nuclear liability bill. But many sections in our politics of society are against the current format of

the compensations referred in the bill. On international standard too it lacks behind and does not

meet the criterion. So, the question remains to be answered- is government going with the

attitude ‘couldn’t care less’?

Founder of Gas Pidit Mahila Udyog Sansthan Abdul Jabbar and an activist Satinath Sarangi also

hailed the decision of the Supreme Court and expressed the hope that the justice would be

delivered soon.

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While expressing happiness over CBI’s initiative to approach the Supreme Court, S R Mohanty,

the Principal Secretary, Madhya Pradesh government, said that CBI took it up and the Supreme

Court had issued notice. This opens the possibility of meeting the ends of justice.

Sunita Narain, Chairman of Centre for Science and Environment, said the apex court’s decision

has assured that we are on the road to justice.

During the trial, 178 prosecution witnesses were examined and 3008 documents were exhibited.

GROUP OF MINISTERS

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has named Home Minister P. Chidambaram as head of the

reconstituted high-level ministerial panel tasked with suggesting remedial measures to help

victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, termed the prime minister’s effort as an

“eyewash”.

The other members of the group are Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister Veerappa

Moily, Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath,

Housing Minister Kumari Selja and Fertiliser Minister M.K. Azhagiri.

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“The terms of reference of the group are to examine all issues relating to the Bhopal gas tragedy.

The group will make appropriate recommendations on remedial measures that can be taken for

rehabilitation of victims and their families,” the official added.

The Congress, meanwhile, said the government should make every effort to extradite Warren

Anderson, who was the CEO of Union Carbide Corp when the Bhopal gas tragedy took place.

A senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the government would decide on

renewing a request to the US for extraditing Anderson, after getting additional evidence from

investigating agencies on the Bhopal gas tragedy.8

THE RECEDING PROSPECTS OF JUSTICE FOR BHOPAL

What the country witnessed on 7th june was nothing less than a dam-bursts of public outrage,

when eight individuals accused of responsibility for the Bhopal holocaust were each handed the

derisory sentences of two years in prison. But if there was ever a miscarriage of justice foretold

with absolute certainity, it was this. It was not 7th june 2010 when the die was cast, but 13th

September 1996. There were several who were outraged then, but their voices were not heard.

The matter remained cloaked in complex judicial reasoning, and the media, which on 7th june,

worked itself up into a lather of moral outrage, had little inclination then to penetrate the fog of

obfuscation.

It was on 13th September 1996 that the Supreme Court overruled the findings of the all lower

courts, disregarded the urgent pleadings of counsel for the Indian Government, and quashed the

charges of “culpable homicide” and “voluntarily causing bodily harm” that had been brought by

the prosecution. In place of these, the Supreme Court held, with an abundance of specious

argumentation- well documented recently by Colin Gonsalves- that no more than a charge

“causing death by negligence” could be laid.9

8 http://www.answers.com/topic/toxic-tort

9 “the Bhopal Catastrophe: Politics, Conspiracy and Betrayal”, Economic and Political Weekly, 26th june 2010, pp 68-75.

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In the wake of this entirely predictable judicial disaster, the central government, which held the

sole and exclusive power to litigate on behalf of the Bhopal victims, scrambled in the extreme

haste to find a way to tackle nationwide indignation. A Group of Ministers (GoM, as stated

above) was empowered to go into the verdict and its numerous ramifications and apply

correctives where possible.

MISPLACED COMMENTARY

Media commentary, after a few cursory examinations of the grievances and still unhealed

wounds of Bhopal, turned its attention to one person: Warren Anderson, chairman of the

delinquent company, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) at the time of the accident, now a

nonagenarian living out his years of retirement in remote suburban United States(US). The angry

swirl of public opinion then found a narrow and perhaps rather superfluous question on which to

focus: who had permitted Anderson, soon after his arrest in India in the wake of the gas disaster,

to leave the country on bail secured on a nominal bond of Rs 20,000? Lost in the entire forth was

a simple question would it have served any purpose at all, if Anderson- like a typical Indian

undertrail- been locked away years together, when the judicial process was compromised from

its very start and the political will to pursue a complex litigation without sacrificing principle.

 

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THE BASIC PRINCIPLE OF NATURAL JUSTICE THAT NO INDIVIDUAL OR

ENTITY CAN BE BOTH PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT IN THE SAME CASE,

STANDS VIOLATED. BHOPAL HAS BEEN A GROSS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

AND A GIGANTIC BREACHOF FAITH BY A GOVERNMENT THAT CLAIMED TO

BE ACTING IN ITS’ CITIZENS BEST INTERESTS. BUT THESE PERHAPS WERE

FORETOLDFROM THE TIME THAT THE GOVERNMENT, ACTING ON A WIDE-

AND AS IT TURN OUT, MISPLACED- NATIONALIST CONSENSUS, TOOK ON THE

ONUS OF PURSUING THE BHOPAL LITIGATION, EFFECTIVELY

EXTINGUISHING THE VICTIMS’ RIGHTS TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES.

LATEST NEWS ON THE CASE

GoM on Bhopal gas tragedy to meet on Monday

New Delhi, Sep 26 : The Group of Ministers panel on 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy will meet here on

Monday to assess the progress made since the GoM handed over its recommendations to the

Union Cabinet three months ago.

According to sources, the panel headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram will review the

progress made by various ministries since June.

In June, the Union Cabinet had accepted all the 22 recommendations of the GoM and decided to

push for extradition of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson and ascertain the liability

of Dow Chemicals besides announcing a Rs 1265.56 crores package for relief and remediation.

The CBI had on August 2 filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court seeking restoration of

stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the accused in the 1984

Bhopal Gas tragedy case.

The GoM constituted to examine all aspects of the Bhopal gas disaster, seeking Anderson’s

extradition apart from measures to clean up the disaster site, had submitted the report to Prime

Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on June 21.

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The GoM had dealt with all the issues – compensation, legal issues, including the issue of the

extradition of Warren Anderson, the legal options available to the Government of India, and

most importantly, remediation matters, and health related matters.

Union Carbide settled its liabilities to the Indian government in 1989 by paying 470 million

dollars before being bought by another US company, Dow Chemical.

The Government says around 3,500 died in one of India’s most horrific of industrial disasters.

Rights activists, however, claim that 25,000 people have died so far. (ANI)10

CONCLUSION

JUSTICE IS AT A DEAD END FOR THE VICTIMS OF BHOPAL’S CHEMICAL HOLOCAUST.

THE NEW POLITICAL COMMON SENSE IS THAT THIS IS THE OUTCOME OF AN

INTRUSION BY THE JUDICIARY INTO AREAS IT HAD NO BUSINESS ENTERIN, AND A

CONCURRENT ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILTY BY THE EXECUTIVE AND

LEGISLATURE. THE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN THE ONUS OF TIDYING UP THE MESS,

BUT THIS JOB IS UNLIKELYTO BE EASY, GIVEN THAT IT NEEDSTHE JUDICIAL

IMPRIMATUR AT EVERY STEP. IF IT PLAYS TRUE TO FORM, THE JUDICIARY IS IKELY

TO BE MORE CONCERNED WITH DEFENDING ITS DUBIOUS TRACK RECORD THAN

WITH UPHOLDING THE CAUSE OF JUSTICE.

10 http://www.indiatalkies.com/2010/09/gom-bhopal-gas-tragedy-meet-monday.html

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