Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bhopal verdict: NHRC chief Balakrishnan agrees judgement delayed

New Delhi, Jun 7 (UNI) New chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) K G Balakrishnan today agreed that the verdict on the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy came too late.

Initially refusing to comment on whether the verdict was too little and too late, the former Chief Justice of India later accepted the delay in the judgement.

However, replying to a question why the guilty people have not been considered under section 302 of IPC, he said what mattered in the case was the intention of the person involved in ''killing''.

''There is a difference between culpable homicide and murder. It depends on the intention of the criminal but not on the number of people dead,'' Mr Balakrishnan, who became the sixth chief of the NHRC, told mediapersons here .

The section 304 (a) of the Indian Penal Code pertains to death caused by carelessness and acts of negligence and carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment and fine while the section 302 is for punishment for murder wherein whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

When asked about his opinion if the quantum of punishment was less, he denied to comment and said, ''The aggrieved parties can file an appeal with the NHRC and inadequacy of sentence is also a ground for appeal.''

In a landmark judgement of international ramifications, a local court today pronounced the Union Carbide India Ltd's then chairman Keshub Mahindra and seven others guilty in the world's one of the worst industrial disasters.

The NHRC chief also played safe while referring to compensation being given to the tragedy victims.

''There is a committee to look into the grievances of the victims. According to the latest report submitted by the committee in the Supreme Court, all possible efforts are being made by the committee. About 400 petitions are still pending with them which include non-genuine ones also,'' he said.

Describing the tragedy as the greatest man-made calamity for the country, he said the Supreme Court had taken active steps in dealing with the case.

He further said the tragedy raised many complications but had good follow-ups like the Environment Protection Act and many other legislation which came after the disaster.

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