Taking a dig at the slow pace of judicial proceedings, the Supreme Court on Friday said it would perhaps take another 25 years before the Bhopal gas tragedy case is decided by it and by that time the victms would be dead.
"It took the trial court 25 years to decide the case. It will then come on an appeal in the High Court where it will drag on for another 15 years. After that, it will come to the Supreme Court where it will go on for another 10 years. By that time, the victims will all be dead," the apex court said.
Justice Markandeya Katju, heading the bench which included Justice T S Thakur, made the remarks while expressing ire at the protracted delay in disposal of the cases as litigants/advocates take undue adavantage of the loopholes in the legal system.
The Bench cited a Charles Dicken's novel where a reference is made to a civil dispute involving two families, Jarndis Vs Jarndis that dragged on for over a century.
"In that case, the matter dragged on for 100 years, several generations had died. The descendants, the advocates and the judges were not aware what was the case about but they were fighting it.
"India is also becoming like that. Cases keep dragging, " the apex court said.
Justice Katju made the observations while dealing with a SLP in a 24 year old civil dispute.
"This is a 24-year-old case and you are filing a SLP," the Bench said while refusing to entertain the case.
On August 2, CBI had moved the apex court seeking restoration of the stringent charge of culpable homicide, which attracts maximum punishment of 10 years jail term, against the accused in Bhopal gas leak case.
It has urged the apex court to recall its 14-year-old judgement, that had diluted the offence in the December 2-3, 1984 incident to a mere charge of causing death due to rash
and negligent act against former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and six others.
Besides Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, the then Managing Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, the then Vice President, J N Mukund, the then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, the then Production Manager, K V Shetty, the then Plant Superintendent and S I Quereshi, the then Production Assistant were convicted and sentenced to two years jail term by a trial court in Bhopal on June 7.
The trial court verdict had sparked an outrage and civil society activists and political parties sought an appeal against it, maintaining the accused had been tried under a less stringent provision of law for the world's worst industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed.