Today, May 11th, marks another development in the ongoing criminal trial pending against Union Carbide India Limited and its officials at the Bhopal chemical factory on the day of the gas disaster in 1984.
Two factory officials, J Mukund and SP Choudhury, who were found guilty of negligence and sentenced to 2 years in prison in 2010, have now filed an application under section 464 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to overturn the conviction, reframe the charges against them and proceed with a fresh trial.
The criminal charges against Union Carbide India and the factory officials were not first framed until 1997, 13 years after the disaster, and the case did not proceed to trial for a further 13 years, finally coming before the courts in 2010.
“The charges against UCIL & its officials were framed in 1997 and after passing of 25 years these two have woken up and are finding errors, omissions & irregularities in the charges framed against them. Carbide’s legal team has mastered the art of delay tactics” writes Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
The legal team for the two officials also attempted to have one of the judges overseeing the pair’s appeal recused from the case, but this was rejected by the Supreme Court of India last month, April 4th, 2022.
The sessions judge has now requested that the Central Bureau of Investigation respond to the appeal application, with the hearing taking place today, May 11th in the Indian courts. The Bhopal Group for Information and Action has also filed a response on behalf of the survivors to be considered in support of the prosecution. We will announce the outcome of the application once the hearing has concluded.