Want State government to stop blaming Centre for everything

The Bhopal gas leak victims on Sunday appealed to Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily to follow up on his remarks over the failure of the judicial system in delivering justice by filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court against the June 7 verdict of a local court.

Welcoming Mr. Moily's comments, the victims, led by Abdul Jabbar of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan, appealed to him and the Central government to move the apex court against the verdict sentencing all seven accused to two years in jail.

Such a petition can be filed by an aggrieved party (either under Article 32 of the Constitution or otherwise) against any final judgment of the Supreme Court after the dismissal of a review petition, and relief can be given if the violation of the principles of natural justice in the judgment is established. The modalities of the plea were propounded by the Supreme Court in a path-breaking judgment in the Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and another case in 2002.

The victims want the petition to revive the charges of culpable homicide against the accused. These were diluted by a decision of the former Chief Justice of India, A.M. Ahmadi, in 1996. A review petition filed by two organisations of survivors was dismissed on March 10, 1997, without any reason being cited.

“Since the Union of India is fighting the case on behalf of the victims, we request Mr. Moily to have a curative petition filed by the Union of India in the Supreme Court,” Mr. Jabbar told The Hindu.

The Union of India is allowed to act as the representative of the victims under the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985.

Mr. Jabbar also urged the Madhya Pradesh government to stop blaming the Centre and the then Chief Minister, Arjun Singh, for everything and press ahead with talks with the Union government to take appropriate steps to ensure justice to the victims.

“After all the State government is ultimately responsible for its people, and if the Centre is dilly-dallying, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan should take it up with the Centre to ensure justice.”

Panel studying judgment

The State government has formed a five-member committee of legal experts, led by Additional Solicitor-General Vivek Tankha, to look into the legal aspects of the verdict.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within 10 days.