Dow looking down the barrel

An application was filed in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court today requesting that the court proceed to issue a summons on The Dow Chemical Company to produce proclaimed absconder and wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide to face trial in the ongoing criminal case. The court was advised that it could make a request for International Judicial Assistance from the US Department of Justice to ensure compliance with any summons.

Holding banners that read “Bring Dow to the Court” and “Sheltering a murderer is equal to murder,” more than 100 survivors held a demonstration outside the court as the application was filed. The CJM, Bhopal court has convened for its regular two day session to hear depositions against Union Carbide Corporation and other parties, but the proceedings continue to advance in the absence of the key accused — UCC, Union Carbide Eastern and Warren Anderson. All three have been charged with culpable homicide or manslaughter and were proclaimed absconders by the CJM’s court in 1992 after they repeatedly failed to honour court summons.

In the case of Union Carbide, failing to attend the Indian proceedings constitutes a breach of US federal law: in 1985 Carbide filed a motion for inconvenient forum in the Southern District Court of New York whose success was dependent, by law, upon Carbide’s submission to an alternative forum – namely India. A 1987 US Court of Appeals verdict upheld the question of Indian jurisdiction over Carbide, meaning that any judgement rendered in India following the minimal requirements of due process would be enforced by US authorities.

This is the situation Dow inherited with the 2001 merger, and denied by chairman Stavropoulos at last year’s Dow AGM. If the Bhopal court acts soon, the Dow AGM in May 2004 will be truly unmissable.

The text of the application to summon Dow can be seen in this DOC1.

PIC2

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

February 26, 2004
Press Statement

Holding banners that read “Bring Dow to the Court” and “Sheltering a murderer is equal to murder,” more than 100 survivors of the December ’84 Bhopal disaster held a demonstration outside the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court that was hearing depositions against Union Carbide Corporation and other parties. The proceedings in the Court continue to be in the absence of the key accused — UCC, Union Carbide Eastern and Warren Anderson. All three foreign accused were charged with culpable homicide or manslaughter and were proclaimed absconders by the CJM’s court in 1992 after they repeatedly failed to honour court summons.

The court has been unable to proceed against the accused because of their non- appearance. However, ever since the February 2001 takeover of UCC by Dow Chemical, survivors have been demanding that the Government should expedite the disposal of the criminal case by making Dow Chemical produce UCC in court. In July 2003, the CBI submitted a verification of Union Carbide’s merger with Dow Chemical that confirms that UCC is a wholly owned subsidiary fully under the control of Dow.

“The logical follow-up of the merger verification is to pursue Union Carbide through Dow Chemical,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action. “Dow Chemical knowingly acquired a company that is a proclaimed criminal in the eyes of the Indian Government, Dow has a legal obligation to produce Carbide in court to face trial.”

Dow Chemical has maintained that the criminal case against Union Carbide poses no problem to the company because the CJM’s court lacks jurisdiction over the American company given that the company has no further assets in India. However, Dow itself has set up at least four subsidiaries in India and is part of a joint venture to manufacture pesticides.

“Dow’s presence in India gives us a wonderful opportunity to expedite the criminal case against Union Carbide. The Government should stop dragging its feet and take steps to deliver on the long-standing demand of the survivors to punish those guilty of the gas disaster,” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.

Under Indian criminal law procedures, the court can issue summons to Dow Chemical requiring it to produce any thing in its possession or control including its subsidiaries like Union Carbide. Because Carbide itself is a criminal in the eyes of the Court, Dow’s refusal to submit to the court summons would implicate it as a criminal for harbouring or sheltering a fugitive company.

Mrs. Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh

Syed M Irfan, President Bhopal Gas
Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Rachna Dhingra,Satinath Sarangi, Member
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Contact :
1.House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal Tel: 3132298, 5259361
2.B-2 / 302, Sheetal Nagar, Berasia Road, Bhopal Tel : 9826167369

PIC3

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Survivors demand Dow’s inclusion in the criminal proceedings outside the CJM, Bhopal today
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