Bhopal: Over 25 years after a deadly methyl isocyanate gas leak from the Union Carbide plant on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killed thousands of people, all eight accused in the case were Monday held guilty by a local court. Amongst the eight is Warren Anderson, former chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation, US, who is still absconding.
The list of accused includes former Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) chairman Keshub Mahendra, ex-MD Vijay Gokhle, ex-V-P Kishore Kamdar, ex-Works Manager J Mukund, ex-Production Manager S P Choudhary, ex-Plant Superintendent K V Shetty, ex-Production Assistant S I Quershi. R. B Roychoudhary, assistant works manager UCIL died in the process of trial.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari pronounced the verdict in a packed court room convicting 85-year-old Mahindra, and seven others in the case.
They were held guilty under Sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336, 337 and 338 (gross negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.
However, there was no no word on Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of the US, who was declared an absconder after he did not not subject himself to trial in the case that began 23 years ago.
The sentencing in the case is expected later. Arguments on the quantum of sentence were put forward by the defence and prosecution counsel.
Over the years, 178 prosecution witnesses have deposed before the court and the defence team has presented five former employees of the company as witnesses.
In 2009, even a non-bailable warrant was issued against former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson. However, the CBI could not process it. So far, no one from Union Carbide America and Union Carbide Eastern Hong Kong has appeared in an Indian Court.
CBI had chargesheeted Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), Union Carbide (India) Limited, Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong, UCC chairman Warren Anderson and eight Indian officials for the tragedy on December 1, 1987. But, in 1989, the government decided to drop criminal charges without taking the victims into confidence.
Also, in 1996, the Supreme Court reduced the charges against eight Indian officials to 304 (A) which is death by negligence from 304 (II). It carries a maximum punishment of up to two years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000.