Bhopal verdict could impact nuclear liability bill: Moily

There is clearly a growing perception that the court verdict on Monday in the Bhopal gas tragedy case goes too light on the guilty.

Joining the bandwagon, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday sought to connect the court verdict with the nuclear liability bill. The BJP asked the government to reconsider the bill, arguing that it "shielded" private suppliers.

Union law minister M Veerappa Moily too seemed to agree when he said on Monday evening that the long-delayed verdict in the Bhopal gas tragedy case will have an impact on the pending civil liability for nuclear damages bill (See: Bhopal gas disaster: 26 years later, eight convicted).

Terming the court verdict as "painful", BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said the investigative agencies should immediately commence appellate proceedings against the court order. ''After 26 years of hearing, the accused have got only two years of imprisonment and Rs5 lakh of compensation has been decided upon. The CBI should go into appeal immediately," Prasad said.

Noting that discussions were underway on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, Prasad said, "The government should learn proper lessons from the Bhopal gas tragedy. The bill as envisaged puts any criminal liability only on the nuclear operator, in case of a nuclear accident. We urge the government not to rush with the crucial legislation."

Meanwhile Moily said, ''There is need to take note of the lessons learnt [from the Bhopal case] while looking at [questions of] investigation, liability, compensation and punishment.''