The government on Wednesday said that charges against former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson were not watered down and even patted the CBI for standing its ground to seek his extradition on serious charges despite the then Attorney General opining to the contrary.
"The CBI you ridicule has stood by its ground and asked to seek Anderson's extradition under grave charges of 304 whereas the case was registered under 304A," Home Minister P Chidambaram said while replying to a discussion in the Lok Saba on Bhopal gas tragedy which was marred by acrimony.
The Left parties including CPI-M and CPI staged a walk out after Chidambaram said that he would comment on the statement of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh after going through it. Earlier, participating in similar discussion in Rajya Sabha, Singh had sought to blame the then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao for giving safe passage to Anderson.
Recalling the sequence of events, Chidambaram said the CBI continued to press grave charges against Anderson despite Attorney General suggesting that charges against the Union Carbide chief should be framed under section 304A of Indian Penal Code which provides for lesser punishment. Similar opinion, he added, was provided by a US-based legal firm.
While Section 304A provides for maximum imprisonment of two years and fine, the persons facing charges under Section 304 could face imprisonment up to 10 years in addition to fine.
The CBI, Chidambaram added, stood its ground and pursued charges against Anderson and sought his extradition under the 304.
The minister also clarified, "the case which went to Supreme Court was against Keshub Mahindra (chairman of Union Carbide-India) and others. The apex court quashed charges under section 304 against in this case.
"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 by Sessions Court of Bhopal and he was declared proclaimed offender," he added.
Referring to the issue of increasing compensation to the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, Chidambaram admitted that the government and Parliament had not done enough and said the government would file a curative petition in the Supreme Court.
Moreover, he added, government would also give compensation to those victims were left out and provide free medical treatment for life to all those who suffered on account of gas leak.
Chidambaram further said that centre would work in close cooperation with the Madhya Pradesh government to clean the site of toxic waste.