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MP High Court stays proceedings against former SP Bhopal, Swaraj Puri in Union Carbide incident

Wednesday - September 20, 2017 1:09 am , Category : WTN SPECIAL

Bhopal: In the matter related  to Union Carbide India Limited incident, petitioner Swaraj Puri, than Superintendent of Police, Bhopal praying to quash the proceeding of Criminal Complaint Case 2016 on the ground that the complaint has been enormously delayed by about 26 years whereas cognizance can be taken under Section 468 of the Cr.P.C within three years of the date of offence,the single bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Justice, Sushil Kumar Palo has stayed the proceeding in criminal compliant case bending before the CJM, Bhopal till next date of hearing.

Earlier the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal vide order dated on November 19, 2016, passed in criminal complaint case has registered the complaint case under Section 212, 217 and 221 of the IPC against the petitioner Swaraj Puri, than Superintendent of Police, Bhopal and co-accused Moti Singh who was the Collector, Bhopal.

The single bench of the MPHC also issued notices to the respondents Abdul Jabbar, Convernor Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Bhopal and Shahnawaz Khan, Bhopal, returnable within four weeks. The single bench has listed the case after four weeks.

The single bench in its order said that “During the course of arguments, it has been stated at the Bar that whatever the petitioner and co-accused had acted, they did it on the orders of higher authorities. Their act was done in discharge of public duty. Therefore, they are protected under the umbrella of Section 197 of the Cr.P.C. Let notice be issued to the respondents, returnable within four weeks. List the case after four weeks. Meanwhile, it is directed that proceeding in Criminal Complaint Case pending before CJM, Bhopal shall remain stayed till next date of hearing.”
The single bench has heard the petition filed by Swaraj Puri. Senior Advocate V.K. Tankha along with Advocate Ajay Gupta appeared for the petitioner.

The respondents are yet to be noticed. The matter is taken up as mention matter. The single bench has heard on the interim application, an application for grant of a stay. A grim tragedy of unprecedented nature occurred at Bhopal on the night intervening on December 2, 1984, and December 3, 1984 wherein between 00:30 hours and 00:45 hours a highly dangerous and toxic gas called MIC (Methyl Iso-cynite) escaped from Tank No.E-610 from the Bhopal factory belonging to Union Carbide India Ltd. as a result of this leakage 3828 human beings lost their lives while permanent injuries were caused to 18,922 human beings, temporary disablement was suffered by 7172 human beings, temporary disablement caused by permanent injury was suffered by 1313 persons while permanent partial disablement was suffered by 2680 persons. While 40 human beings suffered from permanent total disablement and the death toll of animals amounted to 2544. This ghastly tragedy has come to be known as “Bhopal Gas Tragedy”.

The CJM, Bhopal vide order dated on November 19, 2016, passed in the criminal complaint case has registered the complaint case under Section 212, 217 and 221 of the IPC against the petitioner and co-accused. Criminal revision filed by the petitioner and Criminal Revision filed by co-accused Moti Singh have been decided analogously by learned Special Judge [under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989] Bhopal. Vide order dated on August 24, 2017, Special Judge dismissed the same affirming the order passed by CJM, Bhopal taking cognizance of offenses as mentioned above.

The petitioner was the Superintendent of Police and co-accused Moti Singh was the Collector, Bhopal at the relevant time and Warren Anderson was the Chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation and indicated as accused No.10 in Criminal Case 1984 registered at police station †Hanumanganj. Criminal Complaint Case has been filed by the respondents before the CJM, Bhopal registered as Criminal Case 2016. The respondents/complainants alleged that the petitioner, the then Superintendent of Police and the co-accused, the then Collector of Bhopal were instrumental in releasing the main accused Warren Anderson and sent him to Delhi. Warren Anderson was a citizen of America. From Delhi he left for America and escaped from India. Therefore, the petitioner and co-accused helped him to flee from India and thereby misused their power and position and violated the law of land. Hence, the petitioner and co-accused have committed the offence under Section 221 read with Section 34 of the IPC.

Challenge has been made to the same by preferring this petition under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court. Prayer has been made to quash the proceeding of Criminal Complaint Case (RT) No.13751/2016 on the ground that the complaint has been enormously delayed by about 26 years whereas cognizance can be taken under Section 468 of the Cr.P.C within three years of the date of the offence. There is no application for condonation of delay. The fact of sending Warren Anderson (now dead) was never hidden by the petitioner. The complainants are activists. They know all the happenings even then they did not file any complaint until June 14, 2010. The complaint is based on surmises, contents of a book published newspapers reportings and certain interviews given to the electronic media which are not admissible in evidence.-WTN

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