Laying the groundwork for fresh extradition proceedings against the former Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) chairman, Warren Anderson, to face trial in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday filed an affidavit in a Tis Hazari court here on Tuesday listing the charges against him.
The world's worst industrial disaster left over 15,000 people dead and over five lakh injured or disabled when toxic methyl isocyanate leaked from the plant owned by the UCC's subsidiary Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) on the night of December 2/3, 1984.
In the affidavit filed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav, the CBI said: “Mr. Anderson had full knowledge of the defective design and structure of the plant and of the poor safety measures adopted at the UCIL, Bhopal, the consequences of which were bound to occur and did occur when the poisonous gas leaked.”
The CBI listed the facts of the case; the probe conducted by it, the provisions of the Design Transfer and Technical Service Agreement concluded between the UCC and the UCIL in 1973 for setting up the Bhopal plant; and the results of a 1982 Operational Safety Survey by a U.S.-based team of the UCC which pointed to dangerous shortcomings in the Bhopal plant.
The CBI attached a report of the Expert Group, constituted by the Government of India, which studied all scientific and man-made aspects of the disaster; deposition by various prosecution witnesses and relevant paragraphs of the June 7, 2010 Bhopal trial court's judgment, which had a mention of the culpability of the UCC. The CBI said the September 13, 1996 Supreme Court order quashing charges under Sections 304-Part II of the Indian Penal Code against Keshub Mahindra and eight other accused, instead holding that they be charged under Section 304-A did not apply to Mr. Anderson. For, his trial was separated in 1992 from the remaining accused because of his failure to appear before the court.
“Since Mr. Anderson did not appear before the court, the cognisance taken against him under Section 304 of the IPC [culpable homicide not amounting to murder] still stands and the Supreme Court order of September 13, 1996, does not come in the way of prosecution,” the CBI said.
Mr. Anderson's culpability was prima facie established during its investigation and the trial of the Indian accused that followed. The offence made out against him was “quite similar to the offence of manslaughter recognised as a murder of second degree under U.S. law,” the CBI said.
The affidavit, which has to be sworn before a judicial magistrate by the investigating officer, is an integral part of India's extradition request.
All earlier attempts by India to bring the 90-year-old Anderson to face trial ended in failure after he left the country on bail on the promise of returning when he was asked to come. He was declared a proclaimed offender on February 1, 1992. The last warrant for his arrest was issued by the Bhopal CJM court on July 22, 2009.