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Judgment on Bhopal gas tragedy today

June 07, 2010 08:46 IST

After a trial lasting more than two decades, the judgement on Bhopal Gas tragedy, the world's worst industrial disaster which killed and maimed thousands of people, would be pronounced on Monday.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari will pronounce the judgment after a 23-year-long trial in the toxic leak case from the now defunct Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

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.

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.

Subsequently, the CJM framed charges against the accused under section 304 Part (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and other relevant sections of IPC. After the accused moved the Apex Court, it amended the charges on September 13, 1996 to 304 (A) (causing death by negligence), 336 (acts endangering life or personal safety of others, 337 (causing hurt by endangering life or personal safety of others) and other sections of IPC.

The prosecution, CBI counsel C Sahay had argued that defective design of UCIL and its poor maintenance resulted into the tragedy. Sahay contended that Union Carbide Corporation, USA, in its survey of the factory in 1982 found serious safety and maintenance lapses on nearly 10 counts.

The prosecution argued that even after UCC experts' team visit to the factory, adequate safety measures and maintenance work were not undertaken in UCIL. A Central team, which visited the UCIL plant post-tragedy in 1984, also found lapses in safety norms and maintenance, the counsel had said.

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