Following growing criticism, former Chief Justice of India A M Ahmadi on Friday made a fresh offer to step down from the post of Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust chairman, which he has been holding for the past 12 years.
This comes a day after HT reported that Justice Ahmadi was caught on the wrong foot for defending his 1996 decision to charge the Union Carbide officials for only having caused death due to negligence in the Bhopal gas tragedy case.
The former CJI had said on Tuesday that if some people felt his decision was wrong, they could have got it reviewed. However, it emerged two days later that the victims had filed a review, which Ahmadi heard and dismissed. Following this, he said he did not remember whether a review petition was filed.
Top jurists have asked Justice Ahmadi to give up the post.
The former CJI said he was prepared to do so. “I will send a fresh application to the new Chief Justice of India asking to be relieved of the responsibility, though my previous application was pending with former CJI K G Balakrishnan,” Justice Ahmadi told HT.
Various NGOs and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy have alleged a conflict of interest in Ahmadi holding the trust hospital post, since he decided a case related to the criminal and financial liability of Union Carbide in 1991.
The former CJI dismissed the conflict of interest allegations. “The trust activities are monitored by the Supreme Court and I was asked by the court to take up this responsibility,” Justice Ahmadi said.
Top jurists, however, do not share his view.
“It was totally wrong on his part to have accepted the post. If you wanted the accused to be sentenced for a lesser charge, then you should have stayed away from all related matters throughout your life,” said former Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer.
Former CJI J S Verma said, “The question of propriety has to be judged by public perception. I would not like to be involved with any matter linked to my decision during my tenure as a judge.”