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Union Carbide apologists?


They are playing the apologists for the killer Union Carbide. They, the Group of Ministers constituted by the Prime Minister in the wake of public outrage over the 7th June verdict in Bhopal Gas disaster case, has recommended what the victims should have got in 1984 itself. But this time, even when they get their due, it would be coming from none other than the pockets of their own or may be the pockets of their tax payers brothers.

Torch Rally

Strangely enough, the media is beating its drums of celebrations, even when the clearer picture of the recommendations is yet to emerge. The compensation of Rs. 10 lakh in death cases, 5 lakh in permanent disability and 3 lakh in case of partial disability is so far a guess work. No one knows this for sure, so far, that every gas victim, who has been paid a compensation of whatever size, shall get the compensation.

However, it is a matter of concern that the Union Government did choose to pay the Bhopal victims from its public revenue.

This reminds of a Supreme Court judgment, dated October 3, 1991, where Justice Ahamdi, now infamous for his 1996 order diluting the charges against Carbide officials from 304 to 304 (a).

He, for a change, took a totally pro victim stand dissenting with his brother judges; Chief Justice Rangnath Misra, Justice M.N. Venkatchalliah, and Justice K.N.Singh on the bench. The bench has been hearing the petitions challenging the $470 million 1989 settlement. In his dissent note on the issue of Union Government making good
any deficit in the settlement money of $470 million dollars.

He said in his dissent note – “It would not be proper to saddle the Union of India with the liability to make good the shortfall by imposing an additional term in the settlement without its consent, in exercise of powers under article 142 of the constitution or any other statute or on the premise of its duty as welfare state.

To my mind, therefore, its impermissible in law to impose burden of making good the shortfall on the union of India and thereby saddle the Indian tax payer with the
tort-feasor’s liability, if at all.

If I had come to the conclusion that the settlement fund was inadequate, I would have done the only logical thing of reviewing the settlement and left the parties to work out a fresh settlement.”

Justice Ahmadi, however, himself is in the firing range. His ouster from the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust is said to be on the cards. Its keeping in view of the public opinion which has been creating doubt over Justice Ahamadi’s role in 1996 pronouncement and his subsequent orders on the issue.

Justice has been trying to justify his role as a judge with some evidences available in the criminal case against Anderson, but to no avail. Since all his acts speak louder against him than his futile, soft explanations, as to what and why he did it.

May be a few years later, the current Group of Ministers, has to face the similar situation. But than may be by then it is all meaningless.

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