The government said on Wednesday that charges against former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson were not watered down and even patted the Central Bureau of Investigation for standing on its ground to seek his extradition on serious charges despite the then attorney general opining to the contrary.
"The CBI you ridicule has stood by its ground and asked to seek Anderson's extradition under grave charges of 304 whereas the case was registered under 304A," Home Minister P Chidambaram said while replying to a discussion in the Lok Saba on Bhopal gas tragedy which was marred by acrimony.
The Left parties including Communist Party of Indai-Marxist and Communist Party of India staged a walk out after Chidambaram said that he would comment on the statement of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh after going through it.
Earlier, participating in similar discussion in Rajya Sabha, Singh had sought to blame the then Home Minister P V Narasimha Rao for giving safe passage to Anderson.
Recalling the sequence of events, Chidambaram said the CBI continued to press grave charges against Anderson despite attorney general suggesting that charges against the Union Carbide chief should be framed under section 304A of Indian Penal Code, which provides for lesser punishment.
Similar opinion, he added, was provided by a US-based legal firm.
While Section 304A provides for maximum imprisonment of two years and fine, the persons facing charges under Section 304 could face imprisonment up to 10 years in addition to fine.
The CBI, Chidambaram added, stood its ground and pursued charges against Anderson and sought his extradition under the 304.
The minister also clarified, "the case which went to Supreme Court was against Keshub Mahindra (chairman of Union Carbide-India) and others. The apex court quashed charges under section 304 against in this case.
"The charges under 304 are not quashed against Anderson as the charges could not be framed against him, who jumped the bail. A non-bailable warrant was issued against him by Sessions Court of Bhopal and he was declared proclaimed offender," he added.
Referring to the issue of increasing compensation to the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, Chidambaram admitted that the government and Parliament had not done enough and said the government would file a curative petition in the Supreme Court.
Moreover, he added, government would also give compensation to those victims were left out and provide free medical treatment for life to all those who suffered on account of gas leak.
Chidambaram further said that centre would work in close cooperation with the Madhya Pradesh government to clean the site of toxic waste.
Chidambaram said that toxic waste at the site predates 1984 when the Bhopal gas tragedy took place and added that the state government alongwith oversight committee will oversee cleaning of the site.
Responding to the queries of members on the role of the Centre in Sohrabuddin case, Chidambaram said, "It was the Gujarat government which transferred the case to the Central Investigation Department. The CBI inquiry was instituted by the apex court when CID took the case to it."
The minister said, "Whether somebody is a good man or bad man, he should not be killed in a fake encounter. When I took the charge of my ministry, I made it clear that there would no fake encounter killings by any Central agency."The issue of Sohrabuddin case in Gujarat was the focus of attention for sometime during the debate following acrimony between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress members.