Former Supreme Court Chief Justice A H Ahmadi, facing flak for the 1996 verdict in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, today said he had not committed any impropriety by agreeing to head a multi-million dollar trust set up by the Union Carbide after the gas leak. But another former CJI J S Verma felt Ahmadi should not have accepted the task.
"It is a question of propriety in the public eye," he said, observing personally he would like to keep away from anything related to a court decision given by him. Asked about allegations that he was heading a trust funded by an organisation whose case was decided by him, Ahmadi told Times Now, "I was requested by the Supreme Court to take up the chairmanship...and accepted it. I don't think I did any impropriety in accepting to do some social work in the nature of treating the unfortunate gas victims".
The judge also denied that there was any conflict of interest. "There is no conflict of interest. One is totally different from the other". Ahmadi said he had twice asked recently-retired CJI K G Balakrishnan to be relieved from the trust but had been asked to continue. "So, I cannot be irresponsible and just shoot a letter of resignation" without there being a replacement."
Following the gas tragedy, the CBI had filed a charge sheet under Section 304 (II) of the IPC(culpable homicide not amounting to murder), under which the maximum punishment is 10 years. After this was contested, the Supreme Court in its judgement delivered by Ahmadi held it was not proper to file charges under Section 304 (II) and it has to be framed under Section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) where the maximum punishment is two years," he said.
A Bhopal court had, on Monday, convicted seven persons and sentenced them to two years imprisonment, triggering outrage among people affected by the tragedy in 1984 that left over 15,000 dead.