opinion below represents the view of some of India's most eminent lawyers
Indira Jaisingh and Rajeev Dhawan.
internationally reputed academic in law.
Mr. MC Mehta,
Goldman award winner in 1996, said "this is a golden opportunity
for the Indian government and it must make best use of it".
Justice of the Supreme Court Krishna Iyer, who has submitted to the Prime
Minister a legal note stating that the Bhopal Act and the 1989 settlement
do not address Union Carbide's liability on the issue of contamination
and toxic wastes.
address polite emails and faxes and telephone calls, quoting the legal
opinion below to:
1. Dr Manmohan
Singh, Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister's Office
Room No. 152,
New Delhi, 110001
Tel: +91 11 23012312, 23018939, Fax : 23016857
Bungalow No. 19,
New Delhi. 110011
Residence Tel 23018668, 23015470
Fax : 23015603
2. Mr. Ram
Vilas Paswan, Minister of Chemicals
Tel: +91 11 23386519, 23386364 Fax: 011 +91 11 233 86519
LEGAL NOTE: WHY LAW MINISTER BHARADWAJ IS WRONG
Legal issues regarding statement to be submitted before the US Federal
by the Government of India in the matter related to clean up of contaminated
ground water and soil in and around the abandoned factory of Union Carbide
in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.
1. According to the March 17, 2004 decision of the Second Circuit Court
Appeal of the US Federal Court in the class action suit initiated by
survivors' organizations and individual survivors of Bhopal, the US Court
may direct the plant-site remediation in the event that the Indian
government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in the action
or otherwise urges the court to order such relief.
2. According to the letter [No. 775/1025/2004/47 dated June 7, 2004] from
the Government of Madhya Pradesh to the Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals
Fertilizer, Government of India, "...the Government of Madhya Pradesh
'no objection' if the US Court orders the Union carbide for the removal
proper disposal of the toxic waste." However, the Government of Madhya
Pradesh has entrusted the Government of India to communicate this stand
before the US Federal Court.
3. From discussions with officials of the Ministry of Law, Government
India it appears that the matter of submission of a statement as required
the US Court is being erroneously connected to the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster
[Processing of Claims] Act, 1985. The text of the Bhopal Act clearly
mentions that its objective is "to secure that claims arising out
connected with, the Bhopal gas leak disaster are dealt with speedily,
effectively and to the best advantage of the claimants and for matters
incidental thereto". Facts enlisted below would make it clear why
Act cannot be invoked in this present matter.
3.1. The matter before the US Federal court is related to the contamination
of soil and ground water in and around the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.
3.2. The contamination of ground water and soil is a result of reckless
dumping of hazardous chemicals and chemical waste in and around the factory
above and below the ground. This dumping of chemicals and chemical waste
took place during the routine operation of the plant from 1970 to 1984.
3.3. The issue of contamination of ground water and soil was neither a
of the claims presented by the Government of India in the US Court in
nor was this issue included in the settlement of 14-15 February 1989.
issue did not find mention in the revised judgement on the settlement
October 3, 1991.
3.4. In the course of the ongoing litigation on the class action suit
US Federal Court, Union Carbide did attempt to distance itself from the
claims arising out of contamination of ground water and soil by stating
all Bhopal claims had been settled with the Indian Government. However,
US Court after careful consideration, has decided to make a distinction
between claims related to the disaster and those arising out of
contamination of soil and ground water that in fact pre-date the disaster.
3.5. The order of March 17, 2004 mentioned above is a consequence of the
Court's stand on the matter, which is that of distinguishing the matter
soil and ground water contamination from the issue of the gas leak disaster
of December 1984.
4. In the context of the stand taken by the US Federal Court there is
need to amend the Bhopal Act or refer to it in any manner.
5. Given that the Madhya Pradesh government has taken a positive stance
respect to the statement to be submitted before the US Court it is now
to the India Government to submit such a statement that neither requires
Indian government to be a party in the suit nor entails any expenditure