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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    June 08, 2010

    Breaking news: Supreme Court to deliver Bhopal gas disaster judgment in 2084

    Yesterday, a local court in Bhopal convicted the 7 accused in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, sent them to jail for 2 years and later gave them bail.

    In response to a question at a press briefing on whether there was a formal extradition request for Warren Anderson (the then CEO of Union Carbide), the USA's Department of State said

    Well, as you say, Goyal, this tragedy happened 26 years ago, and it was a terrible tragedy, one of the worst industrial accidents in human history, and we certainly hope that the verdict brings some closure to the families of the victims of this tragedy.

    But just as we were talking about earlier, last week, we had a strategic dialogue with India. Our countries are closely connected. Our economies are increasingly closely connected. So I certainly would hope that this particular case does not inhibit – or the continuing expansion of economic, cultural, and political ties between our two countries. And I have – we fully expect that this will not be the case.
    In other words, we don't give a damn about what you want.

    This then presented a wonderful opportunity for the Indian media to go berserk, pointing out 'double standards' by the USA government when it came to the British Petroleum oil spill and the Bhopal gas tragedy.

    So, while British Petroleum will be forced to pay up billions of dollars in penalties for the damage caused to the environment & businesses, victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy would get something like Rs. 50,000 each in addition to the pleasure of living with the after-effects of the gas poisoning.

    Yet, they're missing a major point.

    The US is stalling or denying requests for Warren Anderson's extradition because it wants to protect it's citizen from criminal proceedings in a different jurisdiction.

    In contrast, India's governments settled for a compensation of USD 470 million, around 14% of the original claim of USD 3.3 billion. Warren Anderson was let off on bail, and there's no chance he's going to enjoy a holiday at Agra (except in disguise perhaps). It is unknown how many palms (belonging to politicians, investigators, policemen & bureaucrats) were greased.

    India's legal system watered down the charges from culpable homicide to criminal negligence. It seems like 'Tort law' is a foreign concept for the Indian judicial system.

    It took over a quarter-of-a-century to deliver a verdict, in a local court at that! There's no doubt that both parties will appeal.

    I expect that the appeal will reach the Supreme Court by 2050, and a final judgment will be delivered close to midnight on 2 December 2084, commemorating the centenary of the disaster.

    When our governments and courts can't protect our citizens, why should we complain if other governments stand up for their citizens, regardless of whether the accused is at fault or not?

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