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Catholics deplore Bhopal verdict

Court 'should have settled the issue' rather than just passing the buck

Catholics deplore Bhopal verdict
Survivors of Bhopal Gas disaster demonstrating against the court decision reporter, Bhopal

May 12, 2011

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The Catholic Church and laypeople in Madhya Pradesh today called the Supreme Court’s verdict rejecting a review in the Bhopal gas tragedy case "unfortunate". “The lengthy legal battle is not going to yield anything substantial to the suffering victims,” said Father Anand Muttungal, spokesman of the Catholic Church in the state. He said the government should take serious measures to resettle the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster instead of keeping the issue emotionally alive in the courts. Terming the court’s decision as “unfortunate”, he said the legal battle should not be a reason to deprive the victims of their dues. “The Church believes that harsher punishment to the accused is not going to solve the problem as the victims want proper food, shelter, clothing and medicine,” he said. The supreme court yesterday turned down a demand by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to re-open the case and hand down heavier punishments to those convicted of negligence. “The petition is based on a plea that is wrong and fallacious. No satisfactory explanation had been given for filing the petition after so long,” the court said, although it did permit a trial court in Bhopal, the state capital, to examine additional evidence to frame the charges as sought by the CBI. Catholic leader Richard D’Silva said the court should have settled the issue rather than just passing the buck to the trial court, which will only delay justice for the victims. State minister for gas relief and rehabilitation Babulal Guar said the government would press for serious charges against the culprits in the trial court. Abdul Jabbar, one of the leaders of the gas victims said they were saddened and claimed the state and federal governments put "insufficient evidence"  before the court against the guilty parties. A court in Bhopal had last year found eight former senior employees of Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary guilty of tragedy, sentencing them to two years imprisonment and imposing fines of 100,000 rupees (US$2,200) each. The CBI and the state government filed the petitions after a public outcry over what was considered as mild sentencing for a tragedy that claimed more than 15,000 lives on December 3, 1984. Relate reports Supreme Court rejects Bhopal case review Bhopal verdict ‘shakes people’s faith in justice’ IC14204

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