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Hemender Sharma
Monday , May 16, 2011 at 19 : 01

Who provides justice to the wronged in India?


There is still a lot of dispute over how many people were killed and left with life long disabilities by the deadly Methyl Iso Cyanide leak from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in December 1984. The CBI says over 5000 died and over 5,68,000, were left suffering from various kinds of injuries. The Madhya Pradesh government says over 15000 have died while NGOs working amongst the victims claim the number is much bigger. Whatever the number of dead and injured may be, the victims of Bhopal by the end of May 2011 have a Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) to answer as in who will provide justice? The question as to when justice will be done is irrelevant even after 26 years .

The Question is: who provides justice to the wronged in India?

The four choices are:

A) The Judicial System in India with the Supreme Court sitting at the top.

B) The government elected by the people at the Center and in the state

C) God, and

D) None of the above.

As far as the victims of Bhopal are concerned the choice of A and B is completely ruled out. The confusion is between C and D. There might be some faithful ones who will go for C but after the Supreme Court's May 11 dismissal of the curative petition -- seeking recall of its 1996 judgment that quashed charges framed against Keshub Mahindra and other under section 304 (11) IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and directed the trial court to frame charges under section 304 (A) causing death due to negligence) - option D is likely to be the obvious choice of the majority of the victims. 26 years of suffering and running around for justice is a long, long time

Why is option A not a choice before the victims any more? It is not that the judicial process has not been tried. Sample this: Three days after the tragedy struck Bhopal the case was handed over to the CBI on December 6 1984. The charge sheet was filed before the court of CJM in Bhopal on December 1,1987 The CJM committed the case to the Sessions Court and on April 8,1993 the 9th additional session judge passed an order framing charges against the accused under section 304(11) The same was challenged by the accused in the High Court but it was rejected. The matter came to the Supreme Court and on September 13,1996 a bench headed by Justice AM Ahmadi quashed the charges and directed the trial court to frame charges under 304 (A) A section meant for dealing with road accidents.

Now after 26 years the Supreme Court on May 11 while dismissing the curative petition has said, "Its is wrong to assume that the 1996 judgment is a fetter against the proper exercise of powers by a court of competent jurisdiction under the relevant provisions of the code." The revisional court according to the judgment (in this case the sessions court) can be approached if the CJM misread the 1996 judgment. The question is for how long will this process carry on? If it is going to take another 26 years, surely there will be none to tick mark before option A.

Option B was never really the choice. The main accused warren Anderson was first arrested under public pressure, than allowed to leave the country without any trial. In fact he was escorted in a state plane to Delhi from where he flew never to return. The poison of the Union Carbide factory has seeped into the ground water. The waste has still not been disposed off. Safe drinking water has still not been provided to the effected areas. The list is endless.

Option C is for the faithful ones. Those who never expected A and B to deliver for whatever reasons. For the majority it is just D. No one can provide justice to the victims of Bhopal.


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More about Hemender Sharma

A chance reporter, reporting for CNN-IBN from Bhopal. Has reported for the Sun Magazine, Delhi MidDay, Hindustan Times, Asian Age and Sahara Samay in the past.


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