For the third consecutive time, Dow Chemical has failed to turn up before a court here in connection with the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy case following which the hearing has been posted for July next year.

This is the third time that Dow, which wholly owns Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), ignored summons of the district court here and failed to appear before it on Saturday.

Tons of toxic Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from Union Carbide’s Bhopal factory on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, killing nearly 25,000 people and injuring half million others.

Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Rajesh Nandeshwar posted the next hearing on July 13, 2016, and slapped a show-cause notice on Dow over a clutch of petitions filed by NGOs working for the gas tragedy survivors.

Counsel for the prosecuting agency CBI, Ajay Kumar informed the court that summons had been sent to Dow via Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

He also told the Magistrate that the U.S. Department of Justice had some queries relating to summons, but they had replied to it.

On behalf of the NGO Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA), its counsel Avi Singh moved an application in the court to commence ex-parte proceedings against Dow Chemical.

It said proceedings for contempt of court should be started and an FIR be filed under sections 174 (obstruction of a public official) and 212 (harbouring a fugitive) of IPC.

The BGIA’s application also sought commencement of criminal trial against UCC.

Meanwhile, five NGOs working for the gas tragedy victims criticised the U.S. for its alleged attempt to shield Dow Chemical from the ongoing proceedings in the court here.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh head Rashida Bi and BGIA conveners Satinath Sarangi and Rachana Dhingra said that it was the third time that Dow Chemical had ignored the notice to appear in the Bhopal court.

BGIA’s counsel, in a press release issued here, said that the U.S. Department of Justice’s refusal to serve notice to Dow was against the principle of international cooperation against crime as enshrined in the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries.

The counsel said that Dow Chemical had publicly acknowledged the summons on its company website.

Hence, there was no need for further notice to be served on Dow, he said in the statement.– PTI

Originally Published: The Hindu