Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Ashwini Kumar Sunday said the agency needs to strengthen its prosecution to match the legal resources employed by the accused in cases like the Bhopal gas disaster.
‘Our investigations are good but there is weakness in prosecution and trial. We will pay more attention to it,’ Kumar told reporters in this Madhya Pradesh city.
He said that while the CBI had one public prosecutor to plead its case, ‘there was a team of five-six (lawyers)’ for the accused in cases such as the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed thousands of people.
The CBI director stressed that the agency will work towards strengthening its prosecution team.
Kumar said the trial in a case was not in the hands of the agency and that it was a court process.
He said that the focus should be on taking steps for the future rather than only conducting a post-mortem of an incident that took place 25 years ago. He said that Bhopal-like incidents should not happen again but if an accident does occur people should get speedy relief.
Kumar said the chargesheet in the Bhopal gas case was based on the Supreme Court directions.
‘The maximum sentence was given (according to chargesheet),’ he said.
A Bhopal trial court June 7 held seven Union Carbide officials guilty of criminal negligence in the 1984 gas leak and sentenced them to two years’ imprisonment. They were immediately granted bail.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs.100,000 on the seven convicted, including Keshub Mahindra, who then headed Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL).
The accused had moved Supreme Court in 1996 against a CBI chargesheet in a Bhopal court to try them on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which comes with a 10-year jail term.
A Supreme Court bench of justices A.M. Ahmadi and S.B. Majumdar had ruled that evidence provided by the CBI against the accused was sufficient only to try them under Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code (death due to negligence).
On the intervening night of Dec 2-3 1984, poisonous methyl-iso-cyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands immediately and many more over the years and maiming numerous others.