The Bhopal Gas case verdict, which after twenty-five years awards a sentence of just two years to the culprits, is a travesty of justice that shames India and insults the memory of the thousands killed. The verdict is the culmination of a deeply flawed process involving the culpability of Governments, investigative agencies and even the highest court of the land. These institutions compromised the interests of the country and the victims, diluting the charges, enabling the American CEO Warren Anderson to escape, and limiting liability to a paltry compensation of only 470 million dollars. These are acts of connivance to help the powerful US company and its Indian entity.
The culprits are now all out on bail and will use the judicial process further to avoid serving even this inadequate sentence. The Government must immediately appeal against the verdict, press for enhancement of sentences and create a process by which justice can be speedily ensured.
The Bhopal disaster and the utterly flawed legal framework shows how the American suppliers and owners have escaped any criminal liability. In this context the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill which excludes foreign suppliers from any liability may help more Warren Andersons. The Bill limits compensation to even less than the paltry Bhopal settlement. Pushing ahead with the Nuclear Liability Bill means playing with the safety and interests of the Indian people.