SC notice to accused in Bhopal gas leak case

In in-chamber proceedings, a bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Altamas Kabir and R V Raveendran sought response from the accused on the curative petition filed by the probe agency seeking recall of the apex court's 14-year-old judgement that had diluted the offence.

The court listed the matter for hearing after the completion of the service.
The CBI has sought reconsideration of the September 13, 1996 apex court judgement which had whittled down the charge to 'causing death due to rash and negligent act' against former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and six others.

Besides Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, the then Managing Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, then Vice President, J N Mukund, then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, then Production Manager, K V Shetty, then Plant Superintendent and S I Quereshi, then Production Assistant were convicted and sentenced to two years' jail term by a trial court in Bhopal on June 7.

The trial court verdict had sparked an outrage with activists and political parties seeking an appeal against it, maintaining the accused had been tried under a less stringent provision of law for the tragedy that left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed.

All the accused were tried under section 304A of Indian Penal Code which attracts a maximum punishment of two years' imprisonment for causing death by a rash and negligent act.

The charge under section 304 part-II was diluted to section 304A by a bench comprising the then Chief Justice A M Ahmadi and Justice S B Majmudar.

The CBI, which described the case as one of the rarest of rare cases, said the apex court should invoke its inherent power in public interest to address and remedy errors apparent on the face of record in the judgement and order of September 13, 1996.

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