The Court rejected the bail application while remembering the severe consequences of Bhopal Gas Leak, 1984. It reiterated that it is the responsibility of management to take preventive measures and avert the tragedy.
The applicants were the factory management of ‘Yashasvi Rasayan Private Limited’ situated in Bharuch district of Gujarat. The factory unloaded two tanks containing Dimethyl Sulphate and Nitric Acid at the noon of 02.06.2020. The hose pipes of the tanks were wrongfully connected to the storage chambers of another chemical. The applicants were notified of the error in the afternoon of the same day. However, no corrective measure was taken at that moment. After 24 hours of the interchange, one of the storage chambers blasted on account of the chemical reaction. As a result of which, ten workers died, and about seventy-seven, workers were injured.
Several FIRs were filed against the officials responsible for production, storage and safety. They were charged for offences punishable under sections 304, 337, 338, 203, 285, 286, 287, 427 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code. The punishment prescribes for a maximum of ten years of imprisonment and a monetary fine. Hence, the applicants applied for anticipatory bail with the Gujarat High Court.
The Court noted the sequence of events which ultimately led to the blast. If the applicants had taken necessary corrective measures to neutralize the reactions, the accident could have been averted. It was the lackadaisical and callous approach of the applicants that contributed to the magnitude of the release of chemical gas. The effects felt in the atmosphere in a radius of ten kilometres of the factory location.
Furthermore, the Court rejected the submission that the accident occurred due to bona fide human error. It exclaimed that the omission of the duty was the primary reason for the accident. It asserted- “The record reveals that the applicants and the Company slept over the act of criminal negligence for more than 24 hours and scrambled only after the blast occurred.”
The Court also observed the fallacy while presenting facts of the case. Over 18 tons of Nitric Acid and 25 tons of Dimethyl Sulphate was being unloaded at the same time. Moreover, the management was aware of the contradicting nature of both toxic substances. Hence, it is pertinent to note that the accused should have realized during the process itself. The Court, thus, conclusively remarked that- “The applicants did nothing and simply slept over the entire event, as if they were waiting for the tragedy to happen.”
Justice Gita Gopi pronounced the judgement at Ahmedabad bench of Gujarat High Court. The factory management was held prima facie guilty of the offence of negligence, leading to culpable homicide. The Court rejected the application for anticipatory bail and booked them under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code.
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