NGOs working for the survivors of Bhopal gas disaster, which killed more than 15,000 people and maimed thousands others for life three decades ago, are up in arms against the CBI for allegedly shielding American chemicals giant Dow Chemical in a bribery case.
The Indian subsidiary of the US firm Dow Chemical had been charged by the CBI with paying more than $200,000 to Indian officials for registration of its products in the country between 1996 and 2001.
The CBI had framed charges against two companies — M/s Dow Agro Sciences and M/S Agro Pack — in May 2011 in the court of special judge of Panchkula in Haryana following a prolonged battle waged by the NGOs, which are seeking legal action and the blacklisting of the company’s Indian arm.
But the special court threw out those charges last year, saying the CBI had failed to produce evidence against them and the supplementary charge-sheet presented by it was “bad in law”.
Now, the NGOs are accusing the CBI of going soft on the companies and their officials.
“How is it possible that the CBI had no evidence against Indian subsidiaries of Dow Chemical when Dow Chemical was fined $325,000 by the Securities & Exchange Commission of USA for the same crime (bribing Indian officials) on February 13, 2007, and the company accepted it without protest?” said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action.
“Is it not evidence? But, the CBI under a design, which everyone can see, didn’t produce evidences against the companies in the court, making the judge discharge the two companies.”
She said it was strange that officials of the Central Insecticide Registration Board would face trial in the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act but the companies, which bribed them, have been let off for want of evidence.
CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad in a text message said, “The case in under trial. While not accepting the supplementary charge-sheet, the court has observed that if evidence is adduced against the two accused companies during trial, as is being submitted by CBI, it will proceed against the accused under CrPC section 319. CBI is a professional investigative agency and to point finger at its integrity without any proof travesty of truth.”
The CBI, which investigated the gas disaster case, failed to expatriate Warren Anderson, the then chairman of Union Carbide Corporation and the prime accused in what is billed as the world’s worst industrial accident.