New Delhi: Praising CBI for its genuine efforts to bring 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy accused Warren Anderson to book, a Delhi court on Wednesday allowed the investigating agency to seek his extradition from the United States.

"Considering the entire facts in its holistic perspective and sentiments of the disaster-hit people, I deem it appropriate and in the interest of justice that he be extradited," Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav said.

"There is no bar in law in seeking extradition of Warren Anderson from the US authorities. Request of the CBI is allowed," he said.

Yadav, in his order, noted, "The chronology of steps taken by the CBI from 1992 till July 2010 in the case reveals that the CBI was not sleeping over the matter and was conscious about its duties to bring Warren Anderson to book."

Union Carbide Corporation chairman Warren Anderson, 90, never faced trial in connection with the world's worst industrial disaster over 26 years ago and was declared a proclaimed offender by the court of Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate in 1992 after he jumped bail, which he had secured on December 7, 1984 following his arrest.

Though, the court allowed the plea of CBI, it wanted to know from the investigating agency as to why it had not taken recourse under the Extradition Act after an extradition treaty between the United States and India came into existence on September 14, 1999.

While pressing for the extradition of Anderson, the CBI said that there was enough material implicating the then UCC Chairman in the case.

It also argued that there was no delay on its part in approaching the US authorities for Anderson's extradition.

"As the management was well aware of the defects in the plant, the culpability of Anderson, being its chairman, cannot be denied," the CBI prosecutor said.

The CBI had moved the court on Tuesday for extradition of Anderson saying that it would be a travesty of justice if he is not put to trial for his alleged role in the 1984 Bhopal gas leakage tragedy.

The agency's plea came in the wake of Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati's submission in the Supreme Court last month that if needed, the government may initiate fresh steps to seek his extradition.

"He is criminally liable to stand trial in India. It would be a travesty and miscarriage of justice if he is not brought before the court of law in India to face trial," said the CBI in its 33-page application for obtaining a Letters Rogatory from the court to the US authorities for the extradition.

It said, "On the night of December 2-3, 1984, thousands had died and over five lakh persons were injured or permanently disabled. In addition, several thousand animals were also killed.

India had approached the US for Anderson's extradition in 2003, but Washington had rejected the plea in 2004 saying that the provisions of the bilateral extradition treaty between them did not allow his extradition.

The issue of Anderson's extradition had cropped up again after a Bhopal court on June 7 last year convicted UCIL Chairman Keshub Mahindra and six other employees posted at the multinational's plant at Bhopal and awarded them two year's jail term each.

The lighter punishment for the offence, which had left over 15,000 people dead and maimed tens of thousands others, evoked widespread outrage, prompting the government to form a ministerial panel to go into the issue.

As per the ministerial panel's recommendations, the government had decided to seek fresh trial of all the seven surviving accused of the Bhopal gas tragedy on the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which entails a jail term upto 10 years.

The government, in an extraordinary step, moved the Supreme Court with a curative petition to seek review of its September 13, 1996 judgement, which had ordered trial of the accused on the milder charge of causing death due to rash and negligent act, which entails a maximum jail term of two years.

The Apex Court had set aside the lower court's order to put Mahindra and others on trial on the stringent charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which was upheld by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The CBI emphasised that it was seeking Anderson's extradition to prosecute him under the stringent provision of section 304 of the IPC (Causing death by negligence).

Referring to the extradition treaty of September 14, 1999 between the US and India, the investigating agency asserted that the US is bound by the mutual reciprocity principle of the treaty and is obliged to extradite him.

Detailing its earlier bids to secure Anderson's presence here in India to face trial, the CBI said that the Bhopal court had issued summons against him first on December 1, 1987 after filing of the chargesheet in this case.

As the CBI approached US National Centre Bureau, Washington for service of the summon to Anderson, it was told that the same could be served only through Letters Rogatory.

Accordingly, the CBI got a fresh summon issued against him on July 16, 1988 which was sent for service and a report was received from the Embassy of India, Washington saying that the summons have been served to Anderson.

For Anderson's extradition, the CBI is also relying on the prosecution's evidence, proven before the trial court earlier, that the UCC management knew about the Bhopal plant's structural defect, but ignored it in order to cut cost on the maintenance of its tanks storing highly toxic material.

Chronology of Bhopal case

Following is the chronology of Bhopal gas tragedy case, in which a Delhi Court on Wednes allowed CBI to seek extradition of Warren Anderson.

Dec 2-3, 1984: Leakage of toxic Methyl Isocynate (MIC) gas from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal reported. Several people died on the same day which later rose to 15,000 over a
period of time. Several thousand animals were also killed.

Dec 3, 1984:
Bhopal Police registers FIR after observing that people were dying around the factory and arrests several UCIL employees, including Jai Mukund (Works Manager), Satya Prakash Chaudhary (Assistant Works Manager), K V Shetty (Plant Superintendent), R B Roy Chaudhary (Assistant Works Manager), Shakeel Ibrahim Qureshi (Production Assistant).

Dec 6, 1984: Case transferred by state government to CBI.

Dec 7, 1984: Police arrests Warren M Anderson, Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation, Keshub Mahindra, Chairman of UCIL and Vijay Prabhakar Gokhle, Managing Director of UCIL.

Dec 7, 1984: Warren Anderson released on bail.

Dec 9, 1984: CBI takes over the case and starts investigation.

Feb 1985: Indian government files claim for USD 3.3 billion from Union Carbide in a US court.

1986: US District Court judge transfers all Bhopal litigations to India.

Nov 30, 1987: CBI files charge sheet in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, charging the accused under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to
murder)/326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 429 (mischief by injury to works of irrigation or by wrongfully diverting water) read with section
35 of IPC.

Dec 1, 1987: CJM, Bhopal issues summons against Anderson.

July 7, 1988: CJM, Bhopal issues fresh summons against Anderson.

Sept 20, 1988: Letter received from Embassy of India at Washington that summons had been served on Anderson.

Nov 15, 1988: CJM, Bhopal issues bailable warrants against Anderson.

1989: Indian government and Union Carbide strike out-of-court deal, Union Carbide gives USD 470 million.

Jan 1, 1992: Proclamation against Anderson issued by CJM, Bhopal, publishes in the 'Washington Post' newspaper.

Apr 10, 1992: CJM, Bhopal issues Non-Bailable Warrant of arrest against Anderson for arranging extradition proceedings against him.

May 25, 1992: CJM, Bhopal separates the trial of Anderson, Union Carbide Corporation (USA) and Union Carbide Eastern Inc. (Hong Kong) from rest of the other accused
persons.

June 22, 1992: CJM, Bhopal commits the case to the Sessions Court against rest of the nine accused persons.

1992: CJM, Bhopal declares Anderson as Proclaimed Offender after he jumped bail.

Nov 1994: Despite numerous petitions by survivors’ groups, the Supreme Court allows Union Carbide to sell stake in UCIL to McLeod Russell (India) Ltd of Calcutta.

Sept 13, 1996: After the accused moved the Supreme Court, it diluted the charges framed against them by the trial court which was earlier upheld by Madhya Pradesh High Court.

A bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India A M Ahmadi and Justice S B Majmudar said the accused will be tried under section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence), 336
(act endangering life or personal safety of others), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and other sections of IPC.

Mar 10, 1997: The Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by an NGO, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti, seeking a review of its 1996 judgement diluting the
charges framed against the accused by the trial court.

Oct 11, 2002: CJM, Bhopal issued fresh arrest warrant under section 304, 324 and 429 read with section 35 of IPC. The arrest warrant was not executed by the US authorities and
returned.

July 22, 2009: CJM, Bhopal issued fresh NBW against Anderson to appear before the court.

June 7, 2010: After more than 25 years, Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari held guilty all the eight accused persons and sentenced them to two years of jail term
along with fine. However, all the eight convicts were granted bail.

Aug 31, 2010: CBI filed a curative petition before the Supreme Court to re-examine its own September 1996 judgment, which had ruled in favour of the trial of various Bhopal gas leak tragedy accused on charges of causing death due to negligence rather than the harsher penal provision of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Feb 28, 2011: A five-judge bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia also said it will hear on day-to-day basis from April 13 the Centre's plea for restoration of the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the accused and enhancement of compensation for the victims.

Mar 22, 2011: CBI moves Delhi court to obtain a Letter Rogatory to extradite Anderson from the United States to face trial in India.

Mar 23, 2011: Delhi court allows CBI plea seeking to extradite Anderson from the US.

(JPN/Agencies)