A former senior CBI official, involved in the Bhopal gas leak case investigations, today claimed that the probe was "influenced", generating a strong reaction from Law Minister Veerappa Moily who termed the remarks as "irresponsible."
The officer, B R Lall, former Joint Director of the agency and incharge of the probe also said he was forced by the Ministry of External Affairs officials not to follow extradition of Warren Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide Corporation when the gas leak took place 26 years ago.
"CBI investigation was influenced and commanded by some officials, as a result the justice in the Bhopal Gas leakage case got delayed, hence, denied," said Lall, the CBI officer in charge of the investigation from April 1994 to July 1995.
However, Moily, while reacting to Lall's claim, said "After retirement, people can give many statement.
"It is an irresponsible statement. This is not done at all. After retirement, people become martyrs by making such statements."
Claiming that CBI was an "under command" organisation, Lall said, "We need to make it free from government control to ensure transparency and fair probe.
In other countries, all chief investigating agencies have been given autonomy by keeping it out of the control of the judiciary, bureaucracy and executive powers."
The charges by Lall came hours after a local court in Bhopal yesterday convicted former Union Carbide, India, Chairman Keshub Mahindra and seven others for the world's worst industrial disaster, that left more than 15,000 dead on the intervening night of December 2-3 in 1984.
"I was told by the Ministry of External Affairs officials not to follow the extradition of Warren Anderson, which affected the CBI probe," Lall, who is now retired, further claimed.
After registering a case, CBI had filed its chargesheet under Section 304 IPC, which amounts to culpable homicide with maximum punishment of 10 years. However, the charges were later watered down to 304 (a), usually used in road accidents.
"I do not know what circumstances and evidences forced CBI or others involved in the proceedings to lower the section," he said.