M Reyaz and Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) delayed the extradition of Warren Anderson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), between 1992 and 1994, and perhaps even later. Anderson is a co-accused in the 1984 Bhopal disaster case, which took the lives of thousands of people.
BeyondHeadlines (BH) is in the possession of letters written by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to the CBI that shows that required documents were not submitted to the MEA for a long time for further proceedings to ensure the extradition.
BH had requested the MEA under the Right to Information Act (RTI) to provide copies of all correspondence exchanged between the ministry and all other government departments on the disaster until 1995, when the Supreme Court judgement came.
The MEA says in its written response that the CBI has intimated them that “the requisite is exempted in view of the government notification…, whereby the CBI has been exempted under section 2 (u) of the RTI Act, 2005.”
However, the ministry had written letters to the CBI between April 1992 and February 1995. In the first letter dated April 28, 1992, O.P. Gupta , the then joint secretary of the MEA, wrote to the joint director of the CBI and referred to the “Unstarred Rajyashabha Question…about the extradition of former Union Carbide Chairman Mr Anderson,” which indicated that “there is a government decision to get Mr Anderson extradited.” Gupta wrote the letter as the ministry was not aware of “any such decision.”
Although the MEA has not provided BH the copies of letters it received from the CBI, another letter mentions that a letter dated July 22, 1993, was sent by the CBI in this regard. However, the letter dated August 4, 1993, reminded the CBI that it had not so far received the required “extradition documents” and also referred to a news published in The Hindustan Times, according to which a “CBI Senior Counsel” told the media that “all formalities for extradition have been completed, and only a letter remained to be written” by the MEA.
RB Mardhekar, the then director (CPV) in the MEA, also said that the MEA had “not been supplied with any documents so far to this effect.”
The above mentioned dates signify that the CBI took a good 15 months to reply to the MEA letter and that even then, it could not send the copies of the essential documents.
Finally, the CBI dispatched the extradition documents on September 23, 1993. But according to the letter, written by JS Sapra, the then director of the CPV, to A.K. Suri, the assistant director of the CBI (dated October 29, 1993), the documents did not contain the “court order dated the March 27, 1992” and requested to dispatch the same to the “earliest for processing the case.”
Again, another letter dated February 11, 1994, addressed to the assistant director of the CBI indicates that the sent court order by the Bhopal magistrate regarding the extradition of Anderson was not duly signed and hence the ministry requested the CBI to send the “signed copy of the court order…for further action.”
However, ignoring their tardy actions, Suri wrote a letter dated November 7, 1994, nine months after the above letter was sent to the CBI “asking for the present status” of the case relating to the extradition.
Homi Saha , the then director of the CPV in the MEA, replied to this letter (dated December 2, 1994) reminding him that the “CBI had been asked to furnish to us (MEA) all the required documents in proper form” and added “that is where the matter still stands.”
The above mentioned letters clearly point to the fact that the CBI and the MEA could not place the requisite documents and papers in place for the extradition of Warren Anderson.