Government will take steps to fast track the Bhopal gas tragedy case in the High Court as it has learnt "big lessons" from today's verdict and could go in for a standalone legislation to ensure that the culprits in such incidents are brought to book effectively.
"I would say that the Bhopal gas disaster is more than a murder and this kind of negligence cannot go unpunished," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily told reporters here, adding that the lessons learnt could also be useful while proceeding with the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill.
"Lot of lessons to be learnt from this... these things should not be open for interpretation. This is one such case where justice is delayed and practically denied. I would like to say justice is buried," he said. There is a need for fast-tracking the case when it comes to a higher court. We can expedite the case in the high court, the law minister said. "Culprits should be brought to book as earlier ensuring maximum punishment by conducing a proper investigation," he added.
Noting that the Supreme Court had brought the case under IPC 304(A), he said that this resulted in awarding punishment to the accused not more than two years for the industrial disaster that left some 20,000 people dead.
"But I am not blaming judiciary. But these kind of incidents should not be open for interpretation. A disaster of this kind must be dealt with properly. We have to revisit... so that these kind of offences are not repeated," said Moily advocating the need for a standalone legislation to deal with such cases.
The Law Minister felt that 89-year-old Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of USA who is currently living in the US, could be still be brought on trial. Asked whether it was case of delivering justice too little and too late, he said the CBI filed the chargesheet in the case as late as 1999, 15 years after the disaster.
When asked whether the government will be undertaking measures to check delays as seen in the case, he said he will be taking steps. "But till the time a proper investigation is not carried out and trial does not take place, we will not be doing justice," he said. The Minister termed the Bhopal tragedy a serious disaster due to commission and omission of a particular industry.
When asked about claims of CBI investigation officer B R Lal that he was under pressure from MEA not to pursue the case against Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson, he said, "after retirement, people can give many statement. It is an irresponsible statement. This is not done at all," he said. PTI