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Bhopal face-saver grounded

New Delhi, April 13: Bhopal gas victims through their lawyer Avi Singh objected to a face-saving solution offered by the lawyer for the accused Harish N. Salve to the court and the government, ensuring that it failed even before it could take off.

Salve said if his solution was accepted, the court would not have to hear the government’s curative petition to review its controversial September 13, 1996, order diluting the charges against the key accused from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by a rash and negligent act.

A revision petition, filed belatedly by the Centre against the dilution of charges, was pending in a Madhya Pradesh trial court, he said. The top court could issue a clarification saying the lower court would deal with the petition without being in any way “influenced” by the 1996 judgment, Salve said, adding he had conferred with attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati on this.

But the lawyer for the victims objected to any settlement that precluded them. An order cannot be passed on an exchange of notes between counsels, he said, angering Salve and Vahanvati.

A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, had begun the proceedings saying it would hear all parties on whether a curative petition could be entertained after all these years.

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