Chronology of Events in Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case

Following is the timeline of events in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy case. Over 3,000 people were killed in the incident that also caused huge environmental damage.

– Dec 2-3, 1984: Leakage of toxic Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal reported.

– Dec 3, 1984 : Police register FIR. Arrests Union Carbide India Ltd (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 to CBI.

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

– Dec 7, 1984 : Warren Anderson released on bail of USD 2,000, upon a promise to return.

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.

– Mar 29, 1985: The Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985 passed authorising the Centre to represent the victims exclusively.

– Aug 8, 1985: Centre institutes action against the UCC in United States District Court for award of compensation for the damage caused by the disaster.

– May 12, 1986: US District Court Judge Keenan 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 1987: CBI files charge sheet against Anderson and other accused, including UCC (USA), Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong, and UCIL. Summons served on Anderson and UCC on charges of culpable homicide.

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

– Dec 17, 1987: District court makes an interim order directing payment of Rs 350 crore as interim compensation.

– Apr 4, 1988 : UCC challenges this award before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, which reduces the quantum of interim compensation to Rs 250 crore.

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

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

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

-1988: Special Leave Petitions were filed by the Centre as well as the UCC.

– Feb 14, 1989: SC directs overall settlement of the claims for USD 470 million. Directs consequential termination of all civil and criminal proceedings.

– 1992: Part of USD 470 million is disbursed by the government among Bhopal gas victims.

– February 1992: Anderson declared fugitive by court.

– Apr 10, 1992 : Bhopal court issues Non-Bailable Warrant against Anderson for arranging extradition proceedings against him.

– Apr 13, 1992: Centre lays down guidelines for determination of compensation with Rs 1-3 lakh for death.

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

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

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

– Sept 13, 1996: SC on plea of accused dilutes the charges framed against them by the trial court and upheld by Madhya Pradesh High Court. Apex court 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 : SC dismissed the petition filed by an NGO, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti, seeking a review of its 1996 judgment diluting the charges.

– Nov 1999: Victims’ organisations file a suit against Union Carbide and Anderson in federal court of New York for violating international human rights law, environmental law.

– Feb 2001: Union Carbide refuses to take responsibility for UCIL’s liabilities in india.

– Aug 2002: Charges of culpable homicide are maintained against Anderson by Bhopal court, which demands his extradition to stand trial.

– Oct 11, 2002 : CJM, Bhopal issued a 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.

– May 2003: Indian government formally conveys to the US its request for extradition of Anderson.

– Mar 2004: A US court says it could order Dow Chemicals to clean soil and ground water in the abandoned factory site if the Indian government provides a no objection certificate. The Indian government forwards the certificate to the United States.

– June 2004: The US rejects request for Anderson’s extradition.

– July 19, 2004: SC orders the Central Bank to pay out more than 15 billion rupees, part of the original USD 470 million received as compensation kept in the account since 1992.

– Oct 25, 2004: Bhopal gas victims protest the failure of the government to pay victim’s compensation.

-Oct 26, 2004: SC sets deadline of November 15 to pay out the rest of USD 470 million paid by Union Carbide as compensation.

– Oct 26, 2004: SC sets deadline of November 15 to pay out the rest of USD 470 million paid by Union Carbide as compensation.

– July 22, 2009 : Bhopal CJM issued fresh NBW against Anderson.

– June 7, 2010 : After more than 25 years, Bhopal CJM holds guilty all the eight accused persons and sentences them to two years of jail term along with fine (under section 304A IPC). However, all the eight convicts were granted bail.

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

– Dec 3, 2010: Centre files curative petition for enhancement of compensation for victims from Rs 750 Crore to Rs 7,844 crore.

– Feb 28, 2011 : A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court decides to 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 US to face trial in India.

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

– Apr 7, 2011 : Madhya Pradesh government moves SC seeking permission to intervene in the petition filed by CBI.

– Apr 13, 2011: SC questions delay in filing the curative petition.

– May 11, 2011: SC dismisses CBI’s curative petition but leaves it to Sessions court to consider strict charges against accused.

– Jan 12, 2023: SC reserves verdict on Centre’s curative petition seeking enhancement of compensation to victims.

– Mar 14, 2023: SC dismisses Centre’s curative petition seeking enhancement of compensation to victims.

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