As the Opposition slammed the Centre in Parliament for the exit of Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson days after his arrest for the Bhopal gas tragedy, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the charges against him were not diluted and patted the CBI for standing its ground.
“The CBI you ridicule has stood its ground and asked to seek his extradition under grave charges of 304 whereas the case was registered under 304A,” he said.
Replying to a debate in the Lok Saba, Chidambaram said, “The charges under 304 are not quashed against Anderson as the charges could not be framed against him who jumped the bail. A non-bailable warrant was issued against him... and he was declared proclaimed offender.”
Left parties staged a walkout after Chidambaram refused to comment on former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh’s statement in the Rajya Sabha blaming then Home Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao for giving safe passage to Anderson.
Chidambaram admitted the Centre and Parliament had not done enough and that the government would file a curative petition in the Supreme Court.
He was responding to Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s contention that Union Carbide got away with Rs 615 crore and should be made to extract adequate compensation, considering that the US received
Rs 90,000 crore from British Petroleum just for polluting the sea by an oil spill.
Demanding that Parliament scrap the 1989 out-of-court settlement between Union Carbide and the government, Sushma said Bhopal had witnessed “a case of corporate manslaughter” and not mere negligence.
In the Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) criticised the CBI for the “casual way” it treated the case. “Is your government going to make a sincere effort to extradite Anderson?” he asked Chidambaram.
In the Lok Sabha, Manish Tiwari (Congress) said the Centre had moved the US courts, which had ruled that the cases should be pursued in India. “It took a UPA government, albeit after a trial court judgment, to file a review petition.”
Kalyan Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) criticised Swaraj for trying to blame the Congress when her party’s Arun Jaitley had said — as law minister — that Anderson’s extradition was difficult.