NEW DELHI: Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati on Tuesday told the apex court that the two-year jail term handed down to the convicts in the Bhopal gas tragedy case is completely inadequate and is totally disproportionate to the gravity of the offence committed.Appearing before a five-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia, Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice R V Raveendran, Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Justice Aftab Alam, Vahanvati said the toxic gas leak led to the death of 5,000 persons.
“The judgement of September 13, 1996, is oppressive to judicial conscience. It has caused manifest irremediable injustice. A horrendous crime was committed and the maximum punishment capable of being imposed under Section 304A (two year jail term) is grossly disproportionate,” Vahanvati contended.
Vahanvati admitted that it indeed was a mistake to have moved the apex court 16 years after the impugned order was passed but the court cannot hold it against the investigative agency as manifest injustice was committed to thousands of innocent and unconnected people.“It is a fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that crime and punishment must be proportionate to the gravity of the crime and its consequences,” he argued.Vahanvati, appearing for the CBI was seeking curing of defects in the apex court’s verdict of 1996 by filing a curative petition.