CBI hides Anderson extradition letter, 14 years on

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Mar 24, 2009
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CBI has refused to part with information on a purported letter of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) asking it not to pursue extradition proceedings against then chairman of Union Carbide Warren Anderson after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

"The case is still pending prosecution vis-a-vis Anderson, who is an absconder in the case. I am convinced the disclosure of information as asked by you (applicant) would impede the process of his pending extradition and prosecution," CBI said in a response to a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Denying the information to applicant Ajay K Agrawal, an advocate, Chief Public Information Officer of CBI, Rakesh Aggarwal said his response under the transparency law could be challenged before a superior authority within 30 days.

The plea under RTI had sought a copy of MEA letter, purportedly written during 1994-1996, asking CBI not to press for Anderson's extradition in connection with the Bhopal tragedy case which had left over 15,000 dead.

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The application quoted statements of B R Lal, then joint director of CBI, in which he said the MEA was against Anderson's extradition.

"...I do not know, what was the agreement between the two countries (India and the USA) on the issue. And anyway, in a country like ours, no investigation can be done against the rich and people with high contacts," the application, quoting Lal, said.

Anderson, who was booked under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) under the IPC, secured bail and flew out of Bhopal on a state aircraft in 1984.

Within hours of landing at Delhi, Anderson left for the USA and did not come back to face the trial.

Recently, a chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal had awarded two years jail term to seven persons including industrialist Keshub Mahindra, then chairman of Union Carbide after holding them guilty under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC.

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