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Bhopal gas tragedy: SC to hear plea for harsher charges against accused

April 13, 2011 - New Delhi

A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme court will hear today the Centre's plea for prosecuting Bhopal gas tragedy case accused, who have escaped with the lighter punishment of the two year jail term, under the stringent penal provision attracting a maximum of ten years of imprisonment.

The bench headed by the Chief Justice S H Kapadia will take up the curative petition seeking to recall the apex court's 14-year-old judgment that had diluted the charges against the accused who were prosecuted just for the offence of being negligent.

The petition filed by CBI sought restoration of the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead of death caused due to negligence against the accused.

The Supreme court had on August 31 last year reopened the Bhopal gas leak case and issued notices to all the accused on the basis of a petition filed by the CBI seeking to restore against them the stringent charge of culpable homicide, which attracts a maximum punishment of ten years jail term.

In in-chamber proceedings, a bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Altamas Kabir and R V Raveendran sought response from the accused on the curative petition filed by the CBI, which wanted a reconsideration of the 1996 judgement, which diluted charges against former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and six others.

In the early hours of December 3, 1984, around 40 metric tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked into the atmosphere and was carried by the wind to the surrounding slums.

The government says around 3,500 died because of the disaster. Activists however calculate that 25,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and the years that followed.


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