Bhopal's Hall of Shame

The power people who 'gassed' the victims


Prasanna Mohanty | June 12, 2010

The 1984 gas leak from the Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant killed at least 15,000 people and grievously injured over 500,000 others. Here is a list of people who played key role in the denial of justice to the victims:

Warren Anderson: The then chairman of the parent company in US, the Union Carbide Corporation, who was arrested on December 7, 1984 in Bhopal and then given a bail on the condition that he will stand trial in India but never returned. Remains a fugitive till today.

Bhopal WA

Warren Anderson

Arjun Singh: The then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh who ordered that Anderson be released and flown to New Delhi by the state plane. He is yet to come clean on why and on whose orders he released Anderson.

Bhopal AS

Arjun Singh

Rajiv Gandhi: Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at the time. His role is under cloud after it was revealed that Arjun Singh had ordered Anderson’s release after getting a call from someone.

Bhopal RG

Rajiv Gandhi

P.V. Narasimha Rao: It was the then Union Home Minister who not only permitted a safe passage to Anderson before he landed in India but also got him released from the police custody in Bhopal. This was disclosed by then foreign secretary M.K.Rasgotra in an interview to the CNN-IBN on June 17, 2010.

M.K. Rasgotra: The then foreign secretary had facilitated a safe passage for Anderson, both before and after Anderson landed in India. He admitted this after the then deputy chief of the mission of the US embassy in India Gordon Streeb named him as his point man in an interview to the NDTV a day earlier. Arun Nehru, a minister in Rajiv Gandhi's government told CNN-IBN in an interview on June 14, 2010 that Anderson met the then president Giani Zail Singh and the then home minister PV Narasimha Rao in New Delhi before flying out to the US.

Justice A. H. Ahmadi: The then CJI who, in 1996, diluted the charges against the Union Carbide executives from “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”, that attracts 10 years of imprisonment to “causing death by negligence” that entailed two years of imprisonment.

He also dismissed a review petition filed against his order on March 10, 1997, a fortnight before he retired.

Bhopal Villain

Justice Ahmadi

Justice S.B Majmudar: Former chief justice of Andhra and Karnataka HC, he was the other member of the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ahmadi that diluted the charges against the Union Carbide executives. He remained a Supreme Court judge between September 1994 to August 2000.


Justice Majmudar

Justice R.S. Pathak: The Chief Justice of India, who, heading a five-member bench, in 1989, facilitated the compensation settlement for $ 470 million that the Union Carbide had offered (it was the company’s insurance sum with interest), as against $ 3.3 billion that the Government of India had demanded (as representative of the gas victims). He also quashed all civil and criminal proceedings against the Union Carbide. This was described as "just, equitable and reasonable" by the Supreme Court bench.

He was rewarded with a plum posting at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Bhopal judges 5

Justice Pathak

Justice ES Venkataramiah: The CJI in 1989, who was member of the same Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Pathak that approved the settlement in 1989—dropping all criminal liability of the Union Carbide for agreeing to pay $470 million of insurance sum as compensation!

Bhopal judges 4

Justice Venkataramiah

Justice Ranganath Mishra: The CJI between 1990 and 1991, who too was part of the same Supreme Court bench of 1989 headed by Justice Pathak.

Bhopal judges 1

Justice Mishra

Justice M.N. Venkatachalliah: The CJI between 1993 and 94 who was a member of the same Supreme Court bench of 1989 headed by Justice Pathak.

Bhopal Judges 3

Justice Venkatachalliah

Justice N.D. Ojha: Former Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh HC in 1987 and the only member of the Justice Pathak bench who did not rise to become the CJI.

Bhopal JUdge 0

Justice Ojha

Nani Palkhivala: The last word on Indian constitution, who fought the case for the Union Carbide in the US court and demolished American legal experts who pleaded that the victims of Bhopal were more likely to get justice in the stricter American courts. That was in 1985. A year earlier, he had told the Time magazine that the Union Carbide case in India will drag to the next century.

BHopal NP

Nani Palkhivala

Fali S Nariman: Distinguished constitutional jurist who defended the Union Carbide Corporation in the Supreme Court and played a major role in the infamous 1989 judgment--settlement of claims ($ 470 million as the compensation) and "consequential termaination of civil and criminal proceedings".

fali s nariman

Fali S Nariman

Soli Sorabjee: Former Attorney-General of India who advised the NDA government in 2001 against seeking Anderson’s extradition. The government ignored him and proceeded in 2003, but the US government rejected it for lack of evidence.

Bhopal SS

Soli Sorabjee

Central Bureau of Investigation: The premier investigating agency which did not seek Anderson’s extradition until 2003. A former joint director B R Lal, who handled investigation between 1994 and 1995, has revealed that the ministry for external affairs had asked CBI not to pursue Anderson.

A.N Verma: Cabinet secretary in February 1995, when at a high-level meeting it was decided that in view of Indo-US relations it would not be advisable to press for Anderson’s extradition. Others who attended and were a party to the decision--chemicals and petroleum secretary K.K. Mathur; secretary (finance) K Srinivasan, home secretary K Padmanabhaiah, secretary, legal affairs, P C Rao, and the then CBI director, K Vijayramarao.

Those who wouldn’t let the Dow Chemicals, which acquired the Union Carbide in 2001, to clean up the Bhopal plant which still holds tonnes of toxic materials which have seeped through to contaminate ground water and the environment, as a recent official study established. This contamination is making more people sick every day. The ministry of chemicals and fertilisers had wanted the Dow Chemicals to clean up the plant.

Ratan Tata: Widely respected industrialist, who, in November 2006, in his capacity as chairman of the National Investment Commission and also as the chairman of the Tata Sons Limited, was against the chemcials and fertilizers ministry's move. He wrote to the then finance minister P Chidambaram proposing, instead, to set up a fund or trust to clean up the Bhopal plant with contribution from public and private sectors.

Bhopal RT

Ratan Tata

P Chidambaram: Through the RTI it has now come to notice that the then Finance Minister wrote to the PM, in the wake of his visit to attend Indo-US CEO Forum in New York, that Ratan Tata’s offer to clean up the Bhopal plant be accepted. He now heads a GoM constituted to look afresh into the Bhopal case after the court verdict sparked country-wide outrage.

Kamal Nath: The then minister for commerce too had lobbied with the Prime Minister’s Office in 2006 not to press the Dow Chemicals to clean up the Bhopal plant in the interest of investment that the multinational will bring to the country.

Bhopal KN

Kamal Nath

Montek Singh Ahluwalia: As deputy chairman of Planning Commission, he also supported Ratan Tata.

Bhopal MA

Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Congress spokesman and lawyer who advised the Dow Chemicals in 2006 that it was not liable for contamination spread by the toxic material still stored in the Bhopal’s pesticide plant as it acquired the Union Carbide after the 1984 gas leak. The Dow Chemicals took over the Union Carbide plant in 2001.

Arun Jaitley: Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and lawyer who too advised in 2006 that the Dow Chemicals was not liable for contamination of the Bhopal plant or its cleaning.

Those eight who were convicted for two years’ sentence for their role in running the Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant in 1984 (except one who is dead, others were immediately released on bail):

Keshub Mahindra: chairman

Vijay Gokhle: Managing Director

Kishore Kamdar: Vice-President

J Mukund: Works Manager

R.B.Roy Chowdhury: Asstt. Works Manager

S.P.Choudhury: Production Manager

K V Shetty: Plant Superintendent

Shakeel Qureshi: Production Assistant



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