Bhopal tragedy: Court raps govt for seeking more time

The Madhya Pradesh government was left red-faced Saturday when a court, hearing a plea seeking harsher sentence for the convicts in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, objected to its request seeking more time.

District Sessions Judge Sushma Khosla said she was not in favour of giving more time in such a sensitive matter, and fixed February 23 as the date when the state will have the last opportunity to present its arguments.

Abdul Jabbar of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan had filed an application to protest the delay in the matter.

A CJM court had on June 7, 2010, sentenced the accused, including industrialist Keshu Mahindra, to two years in prison, in a verdict that led to a national outcry over what was argued as a meager punishment vastly disproportionate to the scale of the disaster that took thousands of lives. In the wake of the outcry, the state government had challenged the verdict and sought enhancement of jail term for the accused.

A government pleader said the state could not argue its case on Saturday because the advocate general had taken ill. He attributed to past delays in the matter to late receipt of replies from the respondents.

Jabbar alleged that with the passage of time, the government's interest in the matter declined and it showed little urgency to file its replies on time. On February 23, the court will take a call on admissibility of the revision plea.

Meanwhile, on the same date a CJM court will hear a plea to make Dow Chemical, USA, a party in the criminal case. A stay granted by the high court to the company had been vacated last year.

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