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SC rejects reinstating Bhopal gas culp homicide but says trial court could have

Bhopal tragedy: judged, not cured
Bhopal tragedy: judged, not cured

India’s Supreme Court has today dismissed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) curative petition to reinstate culpable homicide charges against those responsible for the Bhopal gas disaster.

The bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia examined the CBI’s curative petition that was filed in August 2010, effectively seeking up to 10-year jail terms for the seven accused, after the Bhopal District Court found in June that they had “caused death by negligence”, which only carries maximum sentences of two years imprisonment and fines of up to five lakh Rupees each.

But the Supreme Court today held that the CBI had failed to explain why it had failed to take action for 14 years after the 1996 Supreme Court ruling that framed the lesser charges.

CBI’s counsel, attorney general G E Vahanvati, said according to the Times of India: "I don't know why it was not filed by the CBI but a review petition was filed in the case by someone else and it was dismissed.”

However, the apex court said that under Section 304 part II the Bhopal trial court would have been permitted to examine additional evidence to restore culpable homicide charges, despite the court originally having declined to go beyond the causing death by negligence charge because it found itself bound by the 1996 Supreme Court ruling, reported Law et al. News.

A second curative petition is also currently in the Supreme Court on the civil compensation. The petition was filed in February of this year and is seeking to increase the compensation to Bhopal victims ten-fold to Rs 7,844 crore from the current Rs 750 crore.

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