Request for Anderson's extradition

Published : Aug 15, 2003 00:00 IST

Warren M. Anderson. - RON FREHM/AP

Warren M. Anderson. - RON FREHM/AP

IT took 11 years for the Government of India to take the first step to request the Government of the United States to extradite former chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation Warren Anderson to India in connection with the Bhopal gas disaster case. On May 5, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sent the request along with the three volumes of the original documents, after getting them authenticated by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, to Alok Prasad, the Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of India in Washington. As per the MEA's instructions, the Indian Embassy forwarded the request to the U.S. State and Justice Department on May 20.

This was confirmed by Special Public Prosecutor and counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) C. Sahay, before N.S. Dixit, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, when the criminal case came up for hearing on July 16. According to the copies of the documents submitted by Sahay to the court, the MEA has asked Prasad to forward the extradition request to the authorities concerned in the U.S., to be forwarded to the appropriate judicial authorities. The CBI, it appears, sent the extradition request afresh to the MEA only on April 21, after the rejection on August 28, 2002, of its application by the Bhopal court to substitute the charge of culpable homicide against Anderson with that of rash and negligent act.

On February 27, a 16-member Lok Sabha committee on Government Assurances, chaired by Telugu Desam Party MP S. Venugopal, in its report presented in the Lok Sabha, indicted the government for its lack of seriousness in pursuing the case (Frontline, April 11). It was on April 10, 1992 that the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal, issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest in order to initiate proceedings for the extradition of Anderson, whom the court had declared a proclaimed absconder.

On July 16, the CJM emphasised the need to increase the pace at which the case proceeded, and offered to pay full attention to the case. The U.S. government's response to the extradition request is keenly awaited.

V. Venkatesan
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