A dejected government on Wednesday put up a brave face after the Supreme Court dismissed the CBI’s petition seeking stringent punishment for the seven former officials of the then Union Carbide company for the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster.
Law minister M Veerappa Moily said neither the government nor the CBI could be faulted for the stand taken by them before the top court. “We had collectively decided last year to move the Supreme Court after much deliberations, but now since the apex court of the country has given its verdict it is final,” he said.
Moily was closeted with the CBI director AP Singh and the government’s top law officer, Attorney General, GE Vahanvati, for nearly an hour after the Supreme Court verdict.
He, however, ruled out any further step from the government side in the matter immediately. “The Supreme Court has left it open for the sessions court in Bhopal, where an appeal is pending, to decide about the stringent charges against the accused. The government would certainly exercise that option,” Moily said.
The government decision to move the SC came after a public uproar over a Bhopal court verdict on June 7 last year, in which the seven accused were sentenced to two years jail for causing death due to negligence.
With the SC having rejected the CBI petition, the government is now shifting its focus to the other steps it had announced last year. The law ministry has asked the Law Commission of India, to put the Law of Torts, which defines the compensation payable by a wrong doer, in the Indian statute books.
“We hope to get a bill passed in parliament to codify the Law of Torts so that the citizens can be encouraged to claim damages for acts committed by companies and individuals like that of Bhopal,” the minister said.