Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Thursday said the directive of the Supreme Court on a curative petition on the Bhopal gas tragedy will have to be “factored in” within the proposed Companies Bill.
“The curative petition filed by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) is before the Supreme Court, and whatever comes from the Supreme Court has to be factored in the Bill as on criminal liability of directors we need to have guidance,” he said.
“I don’t know how long that will take. Since the Supreme Court is looking into the matter we will have to wait for it,” Khurshid told reporters on the sidelines of the 38th National Convention of Company Secretaries here.
He said there were a few challenges that still remained unresolved in the 1984 Bhopal tragedy that left 5,295 dead and 568,292 injured following leakage of deadly methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of Dec 2-3.
To buttress his point, he said the Supreme Court had to entertain the curative petition after 26 years of the incident.
The CBI moved the curative petition Aug 2 seeking recall of the court’s 1996 judgment which diluted offences against seven convicts, including Keshub Mahindra, former Union Carbide India chairman, in the Bhopal gas tragedy case from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.
All the seven were convicted by the trial court in Bhopal June 7 and subsequently awarded jail sentence of two years each. They were let off on bail soon after.
The serious charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder carries a maximum imprisonment of up to 10 years.
In the petition, the CBI has sought restoration of charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the convicts.
Regarding the Companies Bill 2009, Khurshid said it was at the stage of final drafting and after suggestions from the Standing Committee it will be produced in parliament in the winter session, “or latest by the budget session”.
“There are recommendations from the Standing Committee. But that needs to be fine-tuned,” he said.