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Take up with President Obama, the matter regarding absconding accused in Bhopal gas leak disaster case

Appeal to India’s Prime Minister

by Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Saghathan, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti, 6 November 2010

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06 November 2010

To:

Dr. Manmohan Singh,
- Hon’ble Prime Minister,
- Government of India,
- South Block, New Delhi 110001

APPEAL TO BROACH MATTER REGARDING ABSCONDING ACCUSED IN BHOPAL GAS LEAK DISASTER CRIMINAL CASE WITH U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Respected Sir,

This appeal from the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS) and the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) is to remind you that the Government of India has not made requisite efforts to bring the three absconding accused in the Bhopal gas leak disaster to justice. The absconding accused are accused No.1, Warren Anderson (the then Chairman, Union Carbide Corporation [UCC]), accused No.10 (UCC), and accused No.11 (Union Carbide Eastern). The present appeal is with reference to accused No.1 and accused No.10.

As you are aware, accused No.1, Warren Anderson, was arrested on 07 December 1984 under Section 304 Part-II of IPC, etc., and was let off barely six hours later on bail of Rs.25,000/- after the said accused gave an undertaking that he would appear in the concerned Bhopal court when summoned. The CBI confirmed the charge in the charge sheet that it filed before the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, on 01 December 1987. However, contrary to the said undertaking, Anderson has failed to appear before the Hon’ble CJM even after repeated summons. Finally on 27 March 1992, the Court issued non-bailable warrant of arrest against Anderson after proclaiming him an absconder. Regrettably, the Government of India has failed to execute the said non-bailable warrant of arrest due to various hurdles that the U.S. Administration has been repeatedly creating in executing the same during the last eighteen years. Therefore, on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, we, the undersigned representatives of BGPMUS & BGPSSS, urge you to broach the matter with the Hon’ble U.S. President, Mr. Barack Obama, during his visit to India next week. Kindly impress upon the Hon’ble U.S. President about the urgency of expediting the process of extradition of the said absconding accused from the U.S. to India to stand trial as per the laws of this land. It may be noted that the charge under which the said accused No.1, Warren Anderson, is charged is an extraditable offence under the Indo-U.S. Extradition Treaty that was signed on 25 June 1997 and jointly brought into force on 21 July 1999. At the very least, considering the unwarranted loss of precious time and the advanced age of the said accused, an authorized representative of the said accused could represent him during the trial.

Regarding accused No.10, UCC, it may be noted that the Hon’ble CJM, Bhopal, had on 06 July 1988 issued a letter rogatory to the U.S. Administration seeking permission for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inspect the safety systems of the Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) Unit at UCC’s Institute plant at West Virginia, USA [including the manner of waste disposal]. The said inspection was intended to compare the quality of the safety systems installed at the MIC Unit of UCC’s Institute plant* with the safety systems that had been installed at the MIC Unit of UCC’s Bhopal plant for purpose of verifying whether UCC in fact had adopted duel safety standards. Although the U.S. Administration did initially give necessary permission to the CBI on 14 February 1989 to carry out the necessary inspection, the same could not be carried out due to the abrupt Court assisted settlement that took place in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 14 & 15 February 1989. In other words, the unexpected settlement, which also resulted in the withdrawal of all pending criminal cases against UCC in the matter, had thwarted the attempts of the CBI to carry out the necessary comparative study and confirm whether UCC was in fact guilty of adopting duel safety standards.

[While UCC has been bought up by the Dow Chemical Company, USA, the said plant at Institute, West Virgina, is currently owned by Bayer AG, the German chemical giant.]

Fortunately, all the criminal cases against UCC and others were revived by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide Order dated 03 October 1991 in response to the review and writ petitions filed by BGPMUS, BGPSSS and others. As a result, the CBI on 24 December 1991 in a letter addressed to the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, had urged the concerned Indian Embassy official to pursue the matter of revival of the Letter Rogatory issued by the Hon’ble CJM, Bhopal, dated 06 July 1988 with the U.S. Justice Department. However, what transpired between the Indian Embassy and the U.S. Justice Department in the matter since 1992 remains unknown. Anyway, the fact is that the permission that the U.S. Administration had earlier granted to the CBI on 14 February 1989 to verify whether UCC had in fact adopted duel safety standards in the installation of safety systems at the MIC Units at the Institute and Bhopal plants respectively has not yet been revived. Therefore, we again urge you to utilize the opportunity being provided by the presence of the Hon’ble U.S. President in India to broach the subject and to prevail upon President Obama to ensure that necessary permission is granted by the U.S. Administration to the CBI in this regard.

The general issue of prevention of adoption of duel safety standards by U.S. multinational companies that set up industries in India should also form a crucial part of the discourse.

We do hope that you would give due considerations to this appeal.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

(Abdul Jabbar Khan)

Convener,
- Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan
- 51, Rajender Nagar,
- Bhopal 462010

Tel: 0755 2748688
- Mobile: 9406511720
- Email: swabhimankandra at rediffmail.com

(N.D.Jayaprakash
Co Convener,
- Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti
- c/o Delhi Science Forum
- D 158, Saket,
- New Delhi 110017

Tel: 011 27666980
- Mobile: 9968014630
- Email: jaypdsf at gmail.com