CBI to be asked to push for early hearing in Bhopal case: Govt

Bhopal gas tragedy
New Delhi, May 12: Admitting that it has moved on Bhopal gas disaster issue in view of public outcry, the Government today said it will ask CBI to seek early hearing in a Bhopal court on its revision petition and seek graver punishment for the accused in the tragedy.

A day after its curative petition was rejected by the Supreme Court, the government said it was not the end of the road and insisted the apex court has endorsed the stand taken by the CBI.

Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters that the CBI has two petitions pending in the Bhopal Sessions Court -- one for review of the Magistrate's order and the other to seek graver charges under Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the accused.

"The government will request the CBI to move the Sessions Court, Bhopal, for early hearing for its revision application and appeal and seek relief in the Sessions Court to try the accused for graver charges under the IPC," he said.

Explaining the two grounds on which the CBI was proceeding, Chidambaram said under Section 323 of CrPC, if it appears to the magistrate that the case is one that ought to be tried by the Sessions Court, he may commit the case to the Sessions Court at any stage.

Under Section 215 of CrPC, a court may alter or add to any charge at any time before judgement is pronounced, he said about the other ground.

"The government is happy to note that the judgement of the Supreme Court (yesterday).. has endorsed the stand taken by the CBI," he said.

The Home Minister, who headed the Group of Ministers (GoM) which had suggested filing of the curative petition in the Supreme Court, said such a step had been taken on the basis of Attorney General G E Vahanvati''s opinion that there was "sufficient ground".

Asked whether public outcry had been the reason behind government filing the curative petition on a 1996 judgement, Chidambaram said, "it will be naive on my part to say that public outcry did not play its part."

He said the curative petition could not be filed then but sought to blame all the successive governments of various parties for failing to do so.


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