A retired IAS and IPS face criminal charges, 33 years later, for helping Union Carbide chief

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N D Sharma
N D Sharma
is a senior journalist, and Patron of eNewsroom India.

[print-me]

The English idiom ‘asking for trouble’ does not convey the real extent of nuttiness of the person as Hindi saying ‘aa bail, mujhe maar’. That was exactly what former Bhopal Collector Moti Singh did when he penned a book describing in detail how he had, along with then Bhopal Superintendent of Police Swaraj Puri, played a crucial role in providing safe passage to then Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson soon after the Bhopal gas leak disaster. Anderson was the main accused in the disaster case.

Almost 33 years later now, the two have been directed to appear before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in a criminal case initiated by a voluntary organisation working for the Bhopal gas affected people. Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan (BGPMUS) convener Abdul Jabbar quoted Moti Singh’s ‘confession’ (made in his book) in the court of the CJM as evidence to seek prosecution of Moti Singh and Swaraj Puri for helping an accused of a serious crime to abscond. Taking note of the complaint, the CJM ordered registration of a case against both under Sections 212 (harbouring a person believed to be an offender), 217 (public servant disobeying an order to save an offender from punishment) and 221 (intentional omission to apprehend) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Moti Singh wrote the book in 2008. Abdul Jabbar filed the complaint in the court in 2010. The case lingered on till the close of last year when the court of CJM sent summons to the two retired officers to present themselves in the court. As the summons were ignored by them, the court issued the summons for the second time early this year. They ignored the second summons also.  The court then issued a bailable warrant against them, with the observation that the summons could not be served on them as they were influential people.

On a revision petition moved by Singh and Puri, the special sessions court (in its capacity as the appellate court) stayed the proceedings in the CJM court till the revision petition was disposed of. This was challenged by Jabbar in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Justice J P Gupta, while upholding the jurisdiction of the appellate court to issue the stay, expressed its disapproval at the petitioner (Jabbar) rushing to the High Court instead of contesting the case before the special court. Justice Gupta, however, observed that “it appears that learned lower court (that of CJM) has applied its mind and has passed the reasoned order. In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, prima facie, it does not appear that the impugned order (of CJM) is arbitrary or causing prejudice to anyone.”

Special sessions judge R K Soni eventually dismissed on august 24 the revision petitions of Moti Singh and Swaraj Puri with the observation that in the order of the CJM, “there does not appear to be any illegality, error or impropriety which would require intervention of this court.” Later, CJM Bhubhaskar Yadav re-issued on august 28 the bailable warrants, for Rs 5000 each, for their appearance in the court on September 23.

N D Sharma
N D Sharma
is a senior journalist, and Patron of eNewsroom India.

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