Lesser evil?

Published: Thursday 31 October 1996

-- the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy suffered a setback recently when the Supreme Court absolved Union Carbide India Limited and eight of its top executives including the chairperson, of the charges of "culpable homicide not amounting to murder". Thousands of people were killed when methyl isocyanate leaked from the plant.

The court said the officials could not be prosecuted for the original charge as sufficient evidence was not there to indicate that on the night of the disaster, the plant was run by the accused with the knowledge that it was likely to cause deaths of human beings.

Now, the company and the eight officials will be tried for causing death due to negligence under Section 304- a of the Indian Penal Code. The judges said that it cannot be disputed that it was due to the negligence of the accused that the defective plant was operating on that fateful night, resulting in the gas leak.

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