Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 8:56 PM
We, in India (who are grappling with the phenomena of Paid News & Gift Journalism) were outraged by the 5-4 ruling of US Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that gave First Amendment protections to corporations, unions and non-profits involved in election advocacy which tantamount to promoting property based democracy. There can be no disagreement with the contention that "Corporations are not people, they do not vote, and they should not be able to influence election outcomes" but US Supreme Court's 5 judges in their wisdom feel otherwise.
We agree with the 90-page dissent order of Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor arguing that the majority opinion of the US Supreme Court bench "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation."
Influence of corporations is most blatantly visible in the Bhopal's Industrial Disaster case. It may be noted that Rajiv Gandhi led Indian government had allowed Warren Anderson to flee as a quid pro quo arrangement with US government on giving a presidential pardon to one Adil Shahryar (who was close to the Indian Prime Minister). Adil's father Muhammad Yunus, former Indian Ambassador to Spain and long time Chairman of the Trade Fair Authority of India was close to the Gandhi family. Adil, who was given a federal sentence of 35 years in prison for various crimes, was given a presidential pardon by US president Ronald Reagan on June 11, 1985.
See, e.g., Exec. Grant of Clemency to Adil Shahryar (June 11, 1985) (son of aide to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, serving 35-year federal sentence for explosives and fraud offenses, freed as “goodwill gesture” on occasion of Gandhi’s visit to U.S.) U.S. DEP'T OF JUSTICE, OFFICE OF THE PARDON ATTORNEY, WARRANTS OF PARDON,
Letter from US Attorney General Winiam French Smith to Charlton Heston, August 27, 1982, concerning Adil Shahryar.
Hollywood actor Charlton Heston wrote to Attorney General William French Smith in 1982 asking him to intervene in the case of a friend's son (Adil Shahryar) who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for trying to blow up a ship, the assignment was given to Mr. Smith's special assistant, John G. Roberts Jr.
According to recently released government documents, Mr. Roberts reviewed the case and prepared a memorandum explaining that Mr. Heston's version of it was incomplete if not incorrect. He drafted the ''Dear Chuck'' letter from Mr. Smith that constituted a polite but firm brushoff to Mr. Heston, who was an acquaintance of Mr. Smith.
Shahryar was arrested by the US anti-corruption department on charges of importing illegal substance and put in US prison for felony.
Adil was tried in federal court, before a jury, on five counts: (1) attempting to firebomb a ship; (2) false statements on various certificates in connection with the shipment; (3) mail fraud; (4) making of a firearm (the bombs); and (5) use of a firearm (the bombs) in the commission of a felony.
The case was airtight: evidence linked Adil to the purchase of the bomb materials, and he had only an incredible story attempting to pin the blame on two associates to present in defense. He was convicted and sentenced, after a sentencing hearing, to 35 years. The judge indicated he viewed the attempted firebombing of the ship as very serious. Adil had what the prosecutor described as a "superb" defense attorney
during the trial, though Adil fired him before the sentencing hearing. The assistant U.S. attorney who tried the case concluded that Adil was "dangerous and deserves every day of the 35 years he got."
Adil was subsequently convicted by Federal Judge Jarmes Kehoe on May 17, 1982 in five cases to consecutive terms totalling 35 years.
Adil was released six months and four days after Warren Anderson was let go on 25,000 Rupees bail by the Congress led Government of India on December 7th 1984.
Most recently, the Bhopal's Industrial Disaster case came up for hearing on 28th February, 2011
The companies which have been made party to the case are-
• Union Carbide Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemicals Company, having its head office at Texas, USA. - Was the holding company of the Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), at the time of the disaster. It is fully owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemicals Company since 2001.
• The Dow Chemicals Company, having its head office at Michigan (USA) - Fully owns Union Carbide Corporation
• Mcleod Russel India, having its registered office, at Kolkata - Had purchased 50.9 per cent share-holding of Union Carbide Corporation in UCIL in April, 1994
• Eveready Industries Limited, India, having its registered office at Kolkata - Union Carbide India Ltd is currently known as Eveready Industries Ltd.