Former Chief Justice Ahmadi rejects criticism of Bhopal gas tragedy verdict

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New Delhi, June 8 (ANI): Former Supreme Court Chief Justice A H Ahmadi on Tuesday rejected criticism of dilution of charges against Union Carbide executives in Bhopal gas tragedy case, while stating that there was no concept of vicarious liability in criminal law.

Justice Ahmadi also rued the fact that there was absence of law to deal with the kind of Bhopal gas tragedy, as he opined that law could be amended to provide for adequate punishment.

Justice Ahmadi said it was easy for people to talk and make allegations but judges have to work under the system.

"One has to work within the system, within the framework of law. It is easy to speak today, to swing with the tide," he said reacting to criticism that the decision given by bench had led to light punishment given by a Bhopal court in the gas case on Monday.

"There is no concept of vicarious liability. If my driver is driving and meets with a fatal accident, I don't become liable to be prosecuted under 304-II," he said.

In 1996, Justice Ahmadi had headed the Bench that converted the CBI charge under the stringent provisions of 304-II that provided for maximum of 10 years imprisonment to Section with two years maximum imprisonment.

Justice Ahmadi explained that there was no vicarious liability concept in criminal law except that "if there is an abetment, the abettor may be joined with the principal offender. If there is a common intention situation or conspiracy situation, that is understandable. Otherwise no."

The Magistrate court in Bhopal on Monday convicted all eight Indians accused in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy case. A Rs 500,000 fine has been imposed on UCIL.

Toxic gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide factory in 1984 killed thousands and left an unspecified number battered with diseases and deformity - the toll of victims is still rising.

The Monday's verdict has invited criticism from almost all political parties and largely been described as travesty of justice, as the quantum of punishment has been observed as coming too little too late. (ANI)

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