PTI | 08:04 PM, Apr 20, 2011
New Delhi, Apr 20 (PTI) Former Chairman of Union Carbide India Keshub Mahindra, who has been sentenced to two years jail term in Bhopal gas tragedy case, today opposed CBI’s plea in the Supreme Court to impose harsher punishment on him. Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Mahindra, submitted before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, that the curative petition filed by the agency should be dismissed.
He was opposing the petition filed by CBI seeking recall of the apex court’s 1996 judgement that had diluted the charges against the accused who were prosecuted just for the offence of being negligent. He said the case should be decided on the basis of law and not on the basis of facts. The petition filed by CBI sought restoration of the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which entails a maximum punishment of ten years’ imprisonment instead of death caused due to negligence against the accused which envisages two years imprisonment.
The apex court had on August 31 last decided to re-examine its own judgement that led to lighter punishment of two years imprisonment for all the seven convicts. The court had issued notices to all of them on CBI’s plea for restoration of the charge of culpable homicide. Besides Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, the then Managing Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, then Vice President, J N Mukund, then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, then Production Manager, K V Shetty, then Plant Superintendent and S I Quereshi, then Production Assistant were convicted and sentenced to two years’ jail term by a trial court in Bhopal on June 7 last year.
The verdict had sparked a nationwide outrage, leading to the government setting up a group of ministers and the curative petition against the lighter punishment for those responsible for the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed 15,000 people in 1984. PTI AAC RKS