The CBI, which now says that it has evidence to seek the extradition of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, had in 2002 sought dilution of charges against him.
Court documents have revealed the CBI had filed an application in a Bhopal court eight years ago stating that Anderson be tried for having caused death due to negligence and not for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The BJP-led NDA, which has consistently slammed the Congress for allowing Anderson to leave the country, was in power at the Centre during that time.
The investigating agency had moved the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal, six years after the Supreme Court had diluted the charges against seven other accused in the case from 304-II of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to 304-A, which provided for a maximum jail period of two years.
The application was, however, rejected by the court on 28 August, 2002, and the judge had asked the CBI to expedite its efforts to bring Anderson to India for facing the trial.
In stark contrast to the stand taken by it in 2002, the CBI now says that the evidence gathered by it shows Anderson's clear involvement in the tragedy.
The minutes of the Group of Ministers (GoM), which submitted its recommendations last week, show that the CBI now wants Anderson extradited since he faces charges under section 304-II IPC, something which it opposed in 2002. The GoM, however, has made it clear the 1996 SC judgment does not apply to Anderson, since he was declared an absconder.
"The Director, CBI stated that the evidence gathered by the CBI amply demonstrates that Anderson had full knowledge of the defective design and structure of the Bhopal plant," states the GoM report.
"Anderson exercised significant direct control over the management of the Bhopal plant, in which there was negligence in maintenance and safety measures were ignored," says the report quoting CBI director Ashwani Kumar, who wants the request for extradition to be pressed again.
The GoM has recommended that the CBI, with the help of ministries and officials, "may be directed to put together material in support of the fresh request for extradition".