Waking up to a string of injustices to the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy, the government is likely to file a curative petition against the dilution of criminal charges against former Union Carbide officials and move a fresh plea to the US to extradite former chairman Warren Anderson to stand trial in India.
The Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Home Minister P. Chidambaram that met twice on Saturday is learnt to have agreed with Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who favoured a curative petition against the 1996 Supreme Court verdict diluting charges against the accused to causing death due to a rash and negligent act.
At its second meeting later in the evening that focused on health-related issues, the ministerial panel also wondered why the Supreme Court appointed trustees — chaired by former Chief Justice of India A.M. Ahmadi — to the Bhopal Memorial Hospital that was set up in the aftermath of the gas tragedy.
Incidentally, Justice Ahmadi headed the SC Bench that diluted the charges against Union Carbide officials, a verdict that reduced the maximum jail term for the tragedy from 10 years to two years. Justice Ahmadi said he had offered to quit but the SC rejected his request.
“We have heard everyone concerned and we will form some conclusions about how the Bhopal Memorial Hospital should be run in the future,” Chidambaram later said.
At its first meeting, the GoM discussed the government’s legal options. Chidambaram said they had “reached some tentative conclusions” that would be firmed up in the report to be submitted to the PM.
Sources said the conclusions referred to by Chidambaram included the petition to “cure” the defect in the 1996 verdict and making a renewed bid to seek Anderson ‘s extradition.