26 March 2022
The organisations working with the survivors of the December 84 Union Carbide disaster are hopeful that there will be an end to the long drawn out criminal appeal proceedings pending against Union Carbide India Limited, & 7 of its Indian officials since 2010. In a hearing held on 25 March 2022, the District Judge of Bhopal has granted another date for hearing to Union Carbide and its convicted officials to present their final arguments from April 25-29, 2022 from 11am-12:30pm, and has also ordered to list the matter for final judgement on 24 May 2022.
Union Carbide India Limited and its convicted officials have ensured that no arguments on the merit of appeal takes place in the court of District Judge since August 2021 by employing all sorts of delay tactics. The prosecution agency, CBI in its application dated 25 March 2022 has stated that “instant criminal appeal is pending before this Hon’ble Court since 2010 and accused applicant is playing all tactics to derail the due process of law and causing inordinate delay in the administration of justice by filing such petition. There is no order of any higher courts which stops this court from hearing this appeal. “While this criminal appeal has continued for more than 11years, 2 convicted officials (KV Shetty, Vijay Gokhale) have already died as free men, without paying for their crimes and the rest of the convicted officials don’t even show up for hearing dates, said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action.
In an attempt to delay the criminal appeal proceedings in November 2021. 3 convicted officials of UCIL (Kishor Kamdar-Former President, J. Mukund-Works Manger & SP Choudhary) sought recusal of the current District Judge as she had served in an administrative role in the Office of the Welfare Commissioner -Bhopal gas claims & compensation tribunal in 1997. The District Judge denied the request for recusal. The three UCIL convicted persons approached the MP High Court. On 30th November 2021 the MP High Court found that their case was without any merit and it ordered the District Judge to hear the matter at the earliest. On January 20, 2022, these 3 convicted officials of Union Carbide filed a SLP (Special Leave Petition) in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India against the order of MP High Court. It is the contention of Union Carbide convicted officials that criminal appeal filed by them in the Sessions Court of Bhopal should not be heard until the SC decides on their SLP case regarding the recusal of District Judge.
On 7th June 2010, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal court convicted Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) & 7 of its Indian officials including Keshav Mahindra & others were convicted under IPC Section 304-A, 336, 337, 338. The criminal appeal (Cr 365/10) was filed in 2010 by Union Carbide India Limited & its indian officials and has been pending in the Sessions court of Bhopal District Court since then. “37years after the world’s worst industrial disaster the corporations and individuals responsible for killing more than 25,000 people, injuring more than half a million people of Bhopal have used every delay tactic in the book to delay criminal appeal proceedings. While the convicted officials are yet to pay for their crimes, the survivors of Bhopal disaster have gotten no justice or closure and they continue to suffer from chronic illnesses and die untimely deaths due to exposure related ailments. There cannot be a better example of Justice Delayed-Justice Denied said Shezadi Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
In the criminal proceedings pending in Bhopal District court against the foreign corporations; Union Carbide Corporation-USA & Dow Chemical, the Bhopal Group for Information & Action (NGO assisting the CBI, prosecution) filed an application and provided details of the authorised representative of Dow Chemical to whom notice for appearance should be served. Earlier six notices have been issued to The Dow Chemical Company for appearance in the Bhopal district court. The prosecution agency, CBI, has been asked to verify details of the authorised representative of Dow Chemical and present its findings in the next hearing to be held on April 25, 2022.
|Nawab Khan & Shezadi Bee,
|Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
|Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
|Bhopal Group for Information and Action
|Children Against Dow Carbide