Debunking the claims of his former deputy B R Lall in the Bhopal gas case, ex CBI Director K Vijayarama Rao on Wednesday said that at no point in time was there any pressure from any quarter on the investigating agency to drop the case against Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson.
"The Government of India as well as the CBI did everything they could to extradite Anderson from the US. But, the US refused to allow it," Rao told reporters in Hyderabad.
"Their (USA) claim was that the Union Carbide factory was only a holding and that this man (Anderson) cannot be held responsible as he is not directly involved in the running of the factory. We can, however, hold him morally responsible (for the Bhopal gas tragedy)," the former CBI Director said.
Lall, former Joint Director of the agency and in-charge of the probe, had yesterday said that he was forced by the Ministry of External Affairs officials not to follow extradition of Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide Corporation when the gas leak took place 26 years ago.
"CBI investigation was influenced and commanded by some officials, as a result the justice in the Bhopal Gas leakage case got delayed, hence, denied," said Lall, the CBI officer in charge of the investigation from April 1994 to July 1995.
Rao recalled that there was a lot of correspondence between the CBI and the MEA and also between the MEA and the US government.
"In the course of such correspondences, there may have been a letter from the MEA saying that the US is not allowing the extradition of Anderson. But I can tell that at no point was there any pressure on the CBI from the MEA to drop the case," Rao asserted.
When questioned about the claim made by Lall, Rao said, "Asking him (Lall) is not the question but asking the CBI is the issue".
He has only said that "there is a letter but it would have gone through me. But I don’t know what is in that letter. Even in the media we have not seen the letter so far," the former CBI chief said.
He said many letters were exchanged between CBI and MEA. "The letter may be in the context that the US government is not willing to pursue the extradition.One thing is clear, they (US) were not willing to extradite him to India," he said.
Neither the Government of India, the CBI nor the MEA had ever given up on the extradition of Anderson, Vijayarama Rao asserted, adding "We have always pursued it.But even after repeated attempts we were hitting a wall in the case".