[Vizag Gas Leak] AP HC | Employees of LG Chemicals parent company permitted to leave the country as they do not hold liability for “styrene gas leak” incident

Andhra Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Sri Jitendra Maheshwari, CJ and Lalitha Kanneganti, J., permitted the employees of the parent company of LG Chem Limited who belonged to South Korea to return back to their country as they were not binded by the restraining order of the Court wherein, the directors and employees of the LG Chem Ltd. company are not allowed to leave the country till the investigation is going on.

Who has filed the present petition?

Employees of LG Chem Limited have filed the present petition who are South Korean Nationals and are questioning the letter dated 28th May, 2020 addressed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, seeking.

Petitioners have sought the following directions:

  • Issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction to set aside the letter dated 28th May, 2020 issued by respondent 2
  • pleaded that presence of the petitioners in their country is very much essential as they have their own personal obligations to be performed.

Senior Counsel, Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of the petitioners submitted that the petitioners have nothing to do with the affairs of LGPI, Visakhapatnam and they are South Korea nationals and employees of LGC, South Korea as such they cannot be restrained from leaving to their country.They are not the employees or directors of LGPI.

Further, he  submitted that the petitioners will cooperate with the process of enquiry/investigation undertaken by any agency and it is neither feasible nor warranted for them to come to India and participate in the proceedings wherever the respondents require their presence. Petitioners are ready to cooperate from South Korea.

Petitioners visited the LGPI plant at Visakhapatnam as a part of a delegation from LGC (South Korea Team) with a view to supplement and assist the efforts being undertaken by LGPI in assessing the situation and extending care for those affected by the incident of styrene gas leakage.

Petitioners requested the respondent police to record their statements, yet there was unreasonable delay and further they restrained the petitioners from travelling to their own country under the garb of pending investigation.

Advocate General submits that the petitioners can be permitted to leave India provided they give an undertaking stating that they would appear before the Court or investigating agency whenever required, which has been opposed by the Senior Counsel as the same would not be feasible for them.

Decision of the Court

Bench states that petitioners are members of the expert committee of the parent company of LG Chem Ltd. In case their statements are required to the Court, as their statements under Section 161 CrPC were recorded by the police, as stated by the Advocate General, then their presence, if required in the opinion of the Court, may be availed.

Primarily petitioners may not have any liability of the incident, more so, when they are not the employees of the LGPI and are the employees of the parent company– LGC and came to India from South Korea to assist and find out the cause for the incident.

Thus, in view of the above, Court allows petitioners to travel from India to South Korea subject to following directions:

  • Shall filed individual affidavits
  • To be specified in the affidavit that as and when any response is sought for during investigation by the authorities, the same will be furnished.
  • Also to be specified in the affidavits that if their presence is required by the Court, they shall remain present as and when directed.

Petition was disposed of. [Jong Un Lee v. State of A.P., 2020 SCC OnLine AP 163 , decided on 24-06-2020]


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