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BHOPAL COURT REFUSES TO HEAR MOTIONS IN UNION CARBIDE CASE

A court on Monday refused to hear a complaint by Union Carbide India Ltd., accusing India's federal police of tampering with evidence in the world's worst industrial disaster.

Simultaneously, the court rejected a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is similar to the FBI in the United States, charging Union Carbide India Ltd. with trying to delay legal proceedings and deterring witnesses from appearing in court.Judge Wajahdat Ali Shah said he was rejecting both the petitions, made last month, to avoid "any possible delays in the trial," which has been dragging on for the past five years.

At least 4,000 people were killed when methyl isocyanate gas leaked in December 1984 from a pesticide factory run by Union Carbide India Ltd., a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corp., based in Danbury, Conn.

In its application, Union Carbide India Ltd. said the CBI falsified a statement by a company executive in a bid to implicate the company's chairman, Keshub Mahindra, and Managing Director Vijay Gokhale.

The alleged tampering of the witness's statement was "nothing but a grave miscarriage of justice and gross contempt of court," Union Carbide India said in its August petition.

The issue came up for hearing Monday.

The CBI said that in petitioning the court, Union Carbide India was trying to "interfere with the investigations and trial," which amounted to contempt of court.

The government had initially sued Union Carbide for $3 billion in damages but reached an agreement in 1989 to accept $470 million and absolve the company of criminal liability.

However, the Supreme Court on Oct. 3 struck down the immunity clause of the agreement and ordered criminal cases to be reopened.