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The high court at Jabalpur on Friday removed a stay of more than seven years on a lower court’s order of summons to Dow Chemicals in the US on the Bhopal gas disaster of November 1984.
The gas, kiling thousands, leaked from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. Dow later acquired Union Carbide. In January 2005, the chief judicial magistrate in Bhopal had issued an order of summons on Dow Chemical Company in the US, to produce Carbide officials. On an appeal filed by Dow’s Indian subsidiary, the order was stayed by the HC in March of that year. On Friday, that stay was removed and an order issued to summon Dow in the US (Carbide was merged into it in 2001).
Bhopal gas survivor organisations have hailed the decision. “This order is a big achievement for us to make Union Carbide now face trial in India. Dow Chemical now owns Union Carbide Corporation, the prime accused and absconding in the gas case; it can now be held criminally liable,” said Rachna Dhingra, an activist of the Bhopal Group for information & Action.
“It took us eight years to get justice that Dow must be summoned to show cause why it won’t produce its wholly owned subsidiary before the Bhopal court in the ongoing criminal case (for the disaster),” Dhingra added.