Timeline: Indian Court Cases 1990-Present

1990-1991: The Supreme Court of India hears various appeals against the 1989 settlement.

October 3, 1991: In response to review and writ petitions, the Supreme Court of India finds that the quashing of criminal charges in the 1989 settlement was unconstitutional, and reinstates the criminal cases against UCC, Warren Anderson, and other accused parties.

To meet the medical needs of the gas victims, the Court further orders the Government of India to construct a 500-bed hospital. The construction cost of the hospital and its running cost for eight years was to be borne by UCC and UCIL.

However, the Court also upholds the US $470 million settlement. Union Carbide describes the Supreme Court of India’s final order to reinstate the criminal cases as “unfortunate.”

November 11, 1991: Criminal cases against all the accused, including Warren Anderson, revived in the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Bhopal’s Court.

December 7, 1991: Proclamation issued by the CJM of Bhopal, ordering Warren Anderson (accused No.1), UCC – USA (accused No.10), and Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong (accused No.11) to present themselves before the CJM on February 1, 1992.

January 1, 1992: Proclamation for Anderson’s appearance before the CJM of the Bhopal District Court published in The Washington Post (US newspaper).

February 1, 1992:  After ignoring 4 summonses, the CJM declares Anderson, UCC (USA) and Union Carbide Eastern (Hong Kong) as absconders, or fugitives from law, for failing to appear in the criminal case. The CJM of Bhopal orders the attachment of Anderson’s property.

February 21, 1992: Proclamation declaring UCC (USA) an absconder, and ordering that it appear before the CJM of Bhopal District Court on March 27th, 1992, is published in The Washington Post (US newspaper).

March 27, 1992: The CJM of Bhopal issues a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Anderson, and orders the GOI to seek his extradition from the US. Acceding to UCIL’s request, the CJM postpones attachment of UCC’s properties in India. UCC spokesperson, Tom Faillah, says any attempt to extradite Anderson by India will be “disgraceful”.

April 10, 1992: The CJM of Bhopal issues a non-bailable warrant of arrest for Warren Anderson and orders the Government of India to seek extradition of Anderson from the United States. The CJM also directs the CBI to report on initiation of extradition proceedings.

April 19, 1992: Opposition parties question Parliament on the initiation of extradition proceedings against Anderson.

April 23, 1992: The CBI files an application before the CJM of Bhopal for attachment of shares and properties of UCC in India.

April 29, 1992: Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangatan (BGPMUS), the Bhopal Group for Information & Action (BGIA) and Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) file an application before the CJM (Bhopal) for attachment of shares and properties of UCC in India.

April 30, 1992: In the light of their continued non-appearance in court, the CJM of Bhopal attaches the shares and properties of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) held by UCC.

May 22, 1992: The CJM of Bhopal rules that the criminal case against the 9 Indian accused (R.T. No. 2792/87) will proceed separately from the case against the 3 foreign accused (Anderson Accused No. #1; UCC (USA) #10; and UC (Eastern) Hong Kong #11).

May 25, 1992: The CJM of Bhopal directs the CBI to expedite extradition proceedings against Anderson.

June 22, 1992: The criminal case (R.T.No.2792/87) is committed to the Bhopal District Sessions Court for trial. The CJM of Bhopal orders those who were appearing before it, the 9 Indian accused, to now appear before the Sessions Court on July 17th, 1992 to face trial.

July 17, 1992: Proceedings against the 9 Indian accused begin in the Bhopal District Sessions Court of W. A. Shah.

September 29, 1992: The CJM of Bhopal, Anil Chaturvedi, directs the CBI to expedite extradition proceedings against Anderson.

April 5, 1993: BGPSSS, BGPMUS and BGIA submit a petition to the Prime Minister, highlighting 5 key issues of concern to survivors: (1) payment of interim relief; (2) economic rehabilitation; (3) payment of final compensation; (4) medical relief and research, and; (5) prosecution of the guilty.

April 10, 1993: Bhopal 
CJM Anil Chaturvedi directs the CBI to report on initiation of extradition proceedings.

May 25, 1993: 
CJM Anil Chaturvedi directs CBI to expedite extradition proceedings against Warren Anderson

May 28, 1993: The CBI assures the CJM (Bhopal) that extradition proceedings against Anderson will soon begin.

July 28, 1993: The CJM directs the CBI to present information on initiation of extradition proceedings by September 27, 1993.

September 27, 1993: TheCJM reprimands the CBI for failing to initiate extradition proceedings.

December 8, 1993: The Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mr. Eduardo Faleiro,  tells the Indian Parliament, “CBI has prepared documents along with affidavits for the extradition of Mr. Warren Anderson, former UCC Chairman, in connection with the Bhopal gas disaster.”

April 22, 1994: BGPSSS addressed letters to the Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Minister for External Affairs and Minister for Home Affairs, regarding the delay in seeking the extradition of Anderson.

September 20/22, 1994: The CBI admits before Alok Dutt Jha, CJM of Bhopal, that there has been a delay in the extradition of Anderson, and seeks one month to report on extradition proceedings.

November 1994: Despite numerous petitions by survivors’ groups, the Supreme Court of India allows UCC to sell off its encumbered assets to fund the 500-bed hospital, which it was ordered to build in October 1991. Criminal proceedings against UCC become difficult to enforce because Carbide no longer has any assets in India: the accused refuses to appear in court, and there is no longer any UCC assets which the courts could seize in order to compel UCC to show up.

August 16, 1996: A delegation of survivors, along with representatives of trade unions, women’s groups, students, youth organisations and others, meet the Union Minister for External Affairs, and submit a petition urging the GOI to execute the order of the CJM of Bhopal, dated March 27th, 1992, and seek the extradition of Warren Anderson from the US to stand trial in India. The Minister assures the delegation that he will do all he can to expedite the process.

September 13, 1996: The Supreme Court of India dilutes the charges against the Indian officials of UCIL from culpable homicide (10-year sentence maximum) to the criminal negligence (2 year sentence maximum), partly on grounds that culpability lies with UCC.

November 19, 1996: The CBI, for the first time, files a statement before the CJM of Bhopal on the steps taken in the matter of extradition of Anderson, stating that the matter was being re-examined in light of the Supreme Court judgement of September 13, 1996.

November 28, 1997: BGPSSS, BGIA and BGPMUS plead before the CJM of Bhopal to direct the CBI and the GOI to seek extradition of Anderson and authorised representatives of UCC (USA) and Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong to face criminal trial in India.

August 1999: Union Carbide announces forthcoming merger with Dow Chemical Company.

February 2001: Merger of Dow and Union Carbide occurs. Dow inherits assets and liabilities of Union Carbide. Dow claims it is not responsible for a factory it didn’t operate; lawyers advise that under Indian and U.S. law this is legal nonsense. Survivors demand Dow should be held responsible for all medical and environmental liabilities in Bhopal and that pending criminal liabilities against UCC be transferred to Dow. Dow’s $10 billion acquisition of Union Carbide opens the possibility of enforcing criminal liability against the corporation as Dow has four subsidiaries and substantial assets in India.

January 9, 2002: Dow accepts Carbide’s liabilities in the U.S. and settles a Texas asbestos lawsuit originally filed against Union Carbide. Its share price dive 23 percent to close at $26.83 on January 18th. The plunge wipes out $7.16 billion in equity and puts Dow shares back where they were in October 2000.

May 24, 2002: The CBI, working under the Home Ministry, asks the CJM of Bhopal to dilute outstanding charges against Warren Anderson, from “culpable homicide” to “criminal negligence.” While the former carries a possible sentence of ten years, the latter is up to two years and is not extraditable under the terms of the US-India extradition treaty. According to legal opinion, “It is not within the experience of the law that an accused who absconds and evades the process of law and justice is rewarded by dilution of charges.”

August 28, 2002: Due to pressure from a hunger strike led by survivors, and despite pressure from the Indian government to do no such thing, charges of culpable homicide against Warren Anderson are reaffirmed by Chief Judicial Magistrate Kothe in Bhopal court. The court demands Anderson’s immediate extradition from the US to India.

August 29, 2002: Following a lead from the UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper, Greenpeace finds Warren Anderson and visits him at his luxury home in the Hamptons, New York, an exclusive beach resort town, where he has been in hiding for over a decade. Greenpeace serves him an arrest warrant. Despite being wanted by India and Interpol, US authorities claimed they were unable to find him. The newspaper found him in two weeks.

October 18, 2002: School children demonstrate before the Bhopal District Court during the hearing on the criminal case. The CBI tells the court that all the paperwork related to Anderson’s extradition is nearly complete. Reporting on the ongoing procedure of “verification” of the merger between UCC and Dow Chemical,  the CBI representative, Mr. Sahay, states that he has appealed to the GOI to name Dow alongside its criminally absconding subsidiary UCC, which would make Dow Chemical also an accused in the case.

October 20, 2002: The State Government of Madhya Pradesh announces that it will petition the Supreme Court of India to compel Dow Chemical to clean up the contaminated soil and ground water at the UCC-Bhopal factory site.

October 21 – 23, 2002: Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, I D Swamy, and External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, in separate interviews tell reporters that India is proceeding with an application to extradite Anderson from the USA.

November 11, 2002: Survivors share internal UCC documents, obtained through the discovery process of the U.S. class action lawsuit Bano v. Carbide, with the Indian CBI. The documents disclose that UCC and Warren Anderson had imposed “unproven technology” on their Bhopal factory in the critical MIC unit. CBI acknowledges that the documents will be of great use for prosecution and the extradition of Warren Anderson. https://www.bhopal.net/oldsite/unproventechnology.html

December 19, 2002: Dow Chemical-India files a lawsuit in the Mumbai High Court against the survivors, demanding approximately $10,000 (USD) in compensation for “loss of work” as a result of the survivors’ non-violent demonstration outside Dow’s gates.

February 27, 2003: The Indian Parliamentary “Committee on Government Assurances” present their report strongly recommending that the GOI move on Anderson’s extradition without delay, and attacks the government’s apathy so far. www.bhopal.net/oldsite/gov_explain.html. 

March 5, 2003: A writ petition is filed on behalf of 36 survivors representing the 36 municipal wards declared to be gas-affected by the GOI. The petition alleges that the fundamental constitutional rights of equality before law and right to life of the survivors have been violated due to non-payment of interest on compensation amount due to the claimants (the survivors). www.bhopal.net/oldsite/Bhopal-comp.doc 

April 4, 2003: The Supreme Court of India directs the GOI to submit a detailed reply to the issues raised by survivors regarding the balance of compensation funds in their writ petition filed on March 5th, 2003. www.bhopal.net/oldsite/supcourt.html 

April 8 – 9, 2003: During the court hearing in Bhopal, CJM Judge Kothe asks the CBI to report in the next court hearing on the progress of Warren Anderson’s extradition, and on the merger between Dow Chemical and UCC, with a view to include Dow Chemical as an accused in the criminal case.

May/June 2003: The Government of India, via its embassy in Washington, D.C., formally requests the US government extradite Warren Anderson.

July 16, 2003: The CBI submits merger documents to the CJM of Bhopal and requests the CJM to make a decision on the inclusion of Dow Chemical in the criminal case. The court directs the CBI to pursue speedy action on the extradition of Anderson.

February 26, 2004: The Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) files an application with the criminal case being heard in the court of the CJM of Bhopal, requesting the court issue a summons to The Dow Chemical Company (USA), asking Dow to produce its subsidiary, UCC, to face criminal charges.

April 26 – May 3, 2004: In a week long action, students across the US serve members of Dow Chemical’s Board of Directors with an official summons issued by the GOI for Dow’s wholly-owned subsidiary, UCC, to appear in the Bhopal District Court. These actions were organized by Students for Bhopal (SfB).

May 13, 2004: Survivors and supporters protest at Dow Chemical’s headquarters in Midland MI, for its ongoing refusal to address its liabilities in Bhopal. More than 6% of Dow shareholders vote in favor of the Bhopal resolution.

May 18, 2004: Survivors groups meet with the CBI to discuss the slow pace of the hearings, the inclusion of Dow Chemical (USA) as an accused party, and to follow up on Anderson’s extradition.

June 16, 2004: The Bhopal District Court issues notice to Dow Chemical (USA) to appear in court, with regards to the ongoing criminal case against UCC.

July 12/132004: The US government formally rejects India’s request for the extradition of Warren Anderson. The rejection is made on technical grounds, such as the non-framing charges against Anderson in the ongoing case in Bhopal District Court (meaning the exact reason for why Anderson has been accused is not clear enough).

July 19, 2004: The Supreme Court of India orders the GOI to distribute the compensation remaining from UCC’s settlement amount among the 566,876 survivors whose claims have been successfully settled.

September 3, 2004: Dow Chemical files their reply in the criminal case, stating that Dow Chemical International Private Limited, (DCIPL) has no relationship The Dow Chemical Company (TDCC). It also said that Dow Chemical did not merge with UCC; it was a company called Transnational.

October 26, 2004: More than 2000 survivors and their supporters demonstrate in Delhi, to protest against those who are trying to steal a share of the undistributed compensation fund that belongs solely to the survivors of Bhopal gas disaster.

October 28, 2004: Presumably in response to developments before the CJM (Bhopal), where Dow Chemical has claimed that UCC is a separate company, a hastily flung together website for UCC emerges. It had only two pages, identical in design to Dow Chemical’s. Other pages were linked back to dow.com, with the feeble comment that – “Some unioncarbide.com content is hosted on www.dow.com, the website of our parent company.”

November 29, 2004: Amnesty International releases its report, “Clouds of Injustice,” and calls on Dow Chemical to: (1) effectively and promptly decontaminate the factory site and groundwater in Bhopal; (2) make public all information on all reaction products released on the night of the gas leak, including their toxicity and impact on human health and the environment; (3) appear before the Bhopal District Court in the criminal case, and; (4) provide full reparations, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for the continuing damage caused by the ongoing contamination of the site.

December 1 – 5, 2004: Students from more than 60 colleges, universities and high schools worldwide organized events to mark the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster, and to demand that Dow Chemical resolve its legal and moral responsibilities for the “Hiroshima of the chemical industry.”

December 17, 2004: The European Parliament adopts a resolution calling for: (1) a UN fact-finding mission to Bhopal; (2) for the Government of India and the State Government of Madhya Pradesh to ensure the prompt clean-up of the factory site; (3) a regular and adequate supply of clean water to the affected communities, and adequate and accessible healthcare for all survivors, and, (4) a reassessment of the compensation received by victims in the 1989 settlement.

January 6, 2005: The CJM of Bhopal summons Dow Chemical (USA) to explain why it has not produced its subsidiary, UCC, to face charges before the Bhopal District Court. The CJM of Bhopal also orders that, since the absconding UCC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, Dow would be made a party in the criminal case.

January 30, 2006: The CBI finishes its deposition of 178 witnesses for the case against the 9 Indian accused facing trial.

February 5, 2006: Keshub Mahindra and the other Indian accused present their statements before the CJM of Bhopal, in which they denied any role or knowledge related to the disaster.

May 7, 2006: The Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) files an application in the court of the CJM of Bhopal, seeking the court to direct Dow Chemical India Pvt. Ltd. to disclose the volume and value of trade transacted by Dow Chemical through the use of UCC products and services. BGIA argues that there is ample evidence that Dow-India is serving as a front organization, marketing UCC’s products and services in India, without any consequences. Dow is earning several million dollars worth of revenue in India via its subsidiary UCC, an absconder of the Indian justice system.

2007 or 2008: UCIL files an application to re-interview some of the prosecution’s (aka CBI’s) witnesses.

2008: The CJM of Bhopal reissues a non-bailable warrant against Warren Anderson and asks CBI to present Anderson in the Bhopal court.

June/July 2009: Again the Court of CJM of Bhopal reissues a non-bailable arrest warrant for Warren Anderson, ordering the CBI to arrest Warren Anderson and produce him before the court without delay. It also asked CBI what measures it has taken to enforce the 2002 warrant and extradition order.

April 16-19, 2010: The prosecution, headed by the CBI, presented its final arguments in the court of CJM in Bhopal.

April 22, 2010: The defense lawyers for UCIL make their final arguments.

May 2, 2010: The final argument of accused Vijay Gokhale, the Chairman-cum-Managing Director, is presented by his lawyer Mr. Amit Desai.

May 5/6, 2010: The CBI submits a rejoinder to their final arguments.

June 7, 2010: The Bhopal District Court convicts 8 Indian UCIL officials (including: (1) UCIL Chairman, Keshub Mahindra; (2) Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Vijay Gokhale; (3) Vice-President, Functioning In charge, Kishor Kamdar; (4) Works Manager, J. Mukund; (5) Production Manager A.P. Division, S.P. Choudhury; (6) Plant Superintendent, K.V. Shetty, and; (7) Production Assistant, S.I. Qureshi) with criminal negligence, which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years. All are expected to appeal the decision, and all are subsequently released on bail.

June 14, 2010: Bhopal activists in New York City deliver a copy of the arrest warrant for Warren Anderson and the Union Carbide Corporation to their lawyers.

April 28, 2011: The GOI, through the Ministry of External Affairs, sends another request for the extradition of Warren Anderson.

July 2013: The Bhopal District Court asks Dow Chemical to explain why UCC has repeatedly ignored court summons.

September 2014: Warren Anderson dies. It only become publicly known at the end of October 2014.

Part of this timeline is also available visually on Timeglider.

Timeline Index

  1. Timeline: Events of 1969-1984
  2. Timeline: Events of 1984-1989
  3. Timeline: Indian Court Cases 1990-Present
  4. Timeline: Medical History
  5. Timeline: ICJB History
  6. Timeline: Water Contamination & Government Reaction
  7. Timeline: US Court Cases

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