May 11, 2011
“Today will go down as another black day for justice,” Bhopal survivors’ organisations said in reaction to the Supreme Court's order rejecting the curative petition filed by the CBI. “Further to the dismissal of the revision petition filed by three Bhopal organisations against Justice Ahmadi's controversial 1996 order, the Supreme Court today has heaped yet more injustice on the Bhopal victims,” five organisations said.
In 1997, the Supreme Court dismissed a review petition filed by three survivor organisations without conducting even one hearing. The petition was against Justices Ahmadi’s order that quashed the charge of culpable homicide against the Indian officials of Union Carbide and instituted a charge of death caused by negligence.
Today's Supreme Court order is problematic on many counts. First, by saying that the 1996 Supreme Court order was not binding on the trial court, it expects a lower court to act against a specific order of the Supreme Court. This presumption is entirely contrary to the universal practice of the courts. FIRs quashed by the Supreme Court are never reborn by magisterial acts. More importantly, the Supreme Court has ignored the gross miscarriage of justice suffered by the victims through the practical effect of the 1996 judgment.
Second, it has dismissed survivors' prayers along with CBI's petition on grounds that the CBI had neither sought revision of the 1996 order, nor provided sufficient explanation for the delay of almost 14 years. However, it has made no comment on the merits of the survivors' review petition of 1996 given that their petition had been dismissed without a hearing.
“The accused are yet to spend a single day in jail, while 23,000 victims have been condemned to death with lakhs more suffering. The Supreme Court has allowed the convicted criminals to take advantage of the Government's lapses,” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
The organizations pointed out that the Supreme Court has itself proclaimed in the case of Zahira Sheikh that where prosecution fails in providing justice, the apex court could step in. “Nothing could qualify better as a failure of prosecution than the Bhopal case, why didn’t the Supreme Court step in do justice in Bhopal?” asked an irate Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh.
According to the organisations, Keshub Mahindra and other Indian officials have committed mass murders in Bhopal. They point to documentary evidence that establish that these officials knew that the MIC plant design sent by Union Carbide, USA in 1973 was based on “untested. technology”. They said that in 1977 these officials planned and implemented cost cutting measures that made the hazardously designed plant even more unsafe. In 1982 Keshub Mahindra and others ignored the findings of Union Carbide safety audit that pointed out that there were 30 spots in the factory where a major disaster could occur.
“If Keshub Mahindra and other officials get away with a two years jail sentence, the lives and health of the ordinary people of this country will never be secure from corporate crime.” said Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Children Against Dow Carbide
U.S. Contact, ICJB Advisory Board