Before liability has any added value over and

Before the investigation
into the Bhopal disaster many people wondered if it was an industrial accident
waiting to happen. But after many investigations into the safety precautions at
the factory we now know that it was a joint responsivity that caused the disaster
from the Indian Government and from Union Carbide that caused the death of thousands
in Bhopal.

“To a large extent, the
controversies surround three core questions: first, whether there is a basic
conceptual justification for using a system of criminal justice constructed for
individuals against inanimate entities like corporations; second, what value
corporate criminal liability could have given coexistent possibilities of civil
redress against them; and third, whether corporate criminal liability has any
added value over and above individual criminal responsibility of corporate
officers.” (Stewart, 2012)

Theories of the optimal
relationship between individual and corporate responsibility, which take
transnational corporate crimes seriously, also require more holistic appreciations
of surrounding legal norms. Given the complexity and heterogeneity of legal
systems throughout the world, categorical solutions seem almost impossible to
ascertain ahead of time. one of the most often cited justifications for
corporate criminal liability. For very many criminal theorists, corporate
criminal liability can act as a kind of “convenient surrogate” that at least
achieves some accountability when “we cannot identify the real individual
decision-maker. (Stewart, 2012)

In many developing countries
there are still many companies taking advantage of individuals and the nature that
surrounds them. Shell for example is back in the news after their appalling actions
in Nigeria. Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, leader of Nigeria’s Ogale people,
unpacked four bottles of water from his homeland and lined them up on a table
to show why his subjects are suing Royal Dutch Shell in a London court. (NewsGrid, 2016).  The water is contaminated with oil that
contains many cancer-causing agents and this is what his people walk many miles
for to use as their drinking water. There are over 40000 lawyers representing
Nigerians to act against Shell. The fact that the Nigerian courts are too
corrupt shows that many countries, like India are still not able to get justice
in their own country. This is an improvement from the Bhopal disaster who only
got compensated around $500 each which wasn’t even enough to cover medical
expenses.

Corporations are
characterised by a bounded unitary consciousness. As Hindess has pointed out, decisions
made by individuals as well as those made by corporations have a diffuse
grounding. They represent the product of “diverse and sometimes conflicting
objectives, forms of calculation, and means of action”. (Braithwaite & Fisse, 1993)

 

 

The question many people are
asking is, was the Indian government partially responsible for what happened in
Bhopal? At the time of the tragedy the Indian Government was holding at least
25% of the shares through public sector banks and companies and it became Union
Carbide India Limited (UCIL). The plant was also built in a very built up area and
was hazardous to the locals even before the disaster in 1984.

When we think about
corporations committing crimes do we put the blame on the company, but this is
a mistake. Every act of business is under the command of an authoritative individual
or a group of individuals and the blame should be passed to them as they use
the company for illegal purposes.  (Braithwaite & Fisse, 1993)

Of course, on the other
hand there is a great number of lessons we have not learned from the Bhopal
tragedy. For example, how we can prevent future gas leakages. There are many
safety features of a plant nowadays, but they only reduce the chances of leaks.
There are many seepages happening all over the world today, big and small that
are contributing to Global warming. 

Lessons we have learned
from the Bhopal disaster is that there must be a high quality of safety
precautions met as stated in sections 19 and 20 of the Safety, Health and
Welfare at Work Act 2005. Another Lesson we have learned is that many chemicals
we use everyday can be very toxic and it makes many wonder, is it worth the
production of these hazardous chemicals?

“Big business has
developed a profound structural power position on the global scale. This
implies a permanent transformation of the relations between state and capital, especially
in international politics. State and corporate power are no longer exclusively
exercised in the iron cage of the nation state, but in the overarching sphere
of global capitalism.” (Babic, 2017)

We must start accepting
that corporations can commit crime just as much as individuals. According to Marx’s
ideas crime is bound to be linked with capitalism because it is criminogenic.
When we look at capitalism we often see capitalists having a certain attitude
that can lead to them committing white collar crime or corporate crime, such as
tax evasion or breaches of health and safety laws.

Dow Chemical Company
purchased UCC (Union Carbide Corporation) in 2001, seventeen years after the
disaster. Civil and criminal cases were filed in the District Court of Bhopal,
India, involving UCC and Warren Anderson, UCC CEO at the time of the disaster.
In June 2010, seven former employees, including the former UCIL (Union Carbide
India Limited) chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by
negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000
each, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. An eighth former employee
was also convicted, but died before the judgement was passed. This is of some
comfort to the Bhopal Community, but they still want full justice for al the
families affected by this disaster.

The Bhopal tragedy occurred
on December 2nd and