On 28th January, 2020, Five-Judge Bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra to hear the curative petition filed in December, 2010, seeking additional compensation for the Victims of Bhopal Gas tragedy. Earlier in the month of January, 2019 the Supreme Court directed to list the case in the month of April, 2019.
Bhopal Gas tragedy is the world’s worst disaster that occurred on 2nd and 3rd December, 1984 claiming thousands of lives and leaving several injured permanently. The disaster was caused due to the leakage of toxic gas, Methyl isocynate from the Union Carbide Company that manufactured pesticides. Since then the victims of the said tragedy are fighting a long legal battle for compensation and conviction of the responsible executives at that time.
In the year 1985, the Indian Government filed a suit before the US Court claiming $3.3 Billion against the Union Carbide Company. However in the year 1986, the US Court transferred the cases to the Indian Courts on the ground of Forum Conviens. The Indian parliament passed Bhopal Gas Disaster (processing of Claims) Act, 1985 that empowered the central Government to be the sole representative of the victims. The Bhopal Court ordered the Union Carbide Company to pay 350 crore rupees as interim relief which was also not paid by the company. On 13th February, 1989, the Indian Government and the Union Carbide company came for a settlement in which the Union Carbide Company agreed to pay $470 Million as final settlement and that no additional liability shall arise further with respect to the tragedy including criminal proceedings. This was subjected to heavy criticisms and several review petitions were filed before the Supreme Court which were dismissed subsequently upholding the validity of the agreement. Later, the said compensation was disbursed to the victims.
In the year 2010, the central government filed a curative petition before the Supreme Court of India with a plea to award additional compensation of Rs. 7 crore to the victims due to the vast difference between the number of deaths and injuries assumed by the court at the time of awarding compensation and the actual number. The petition states that number of deaths occurred was 5,295 against 3000 and the numbers of persons injured were higher compared to 70,000 as stated in the PIL. Further, environmental degradation caused due to the gas leak was not taken into consideration by the courts while awarding compensation.
1. 1984 – occurrence of the world’s infamous disaster, the Bhopal gas Leak
2. 1985 – Indian Government filed its claim before the US court claiming $3.3 Million as compensation against Union Carbide Company
3. 1986 – US court transferred all the claims before it to the Indian Courts on the ground Forum Conviens.
4. 1987 – The Bhopal Court ordered Rs. 350 crore as interim relief
5. 1989 – The Indian Government and the Union Carbide Company came for a settlement that stated to pay $470 million as compensation against quashing further claims arising out of Bhopal Gas tragedy case.
6. 2010 – The Indian Government filed curative petition before the supreme court claiming Rs.7 Crore as additional compensation.
7. 2018 – The Indian Government filed petition seeking early hearings of the case considering the public interest
8. 2019 -The Supreme Court directed to list the said suit in the month of April, 2019.
The petition states that the disaster occurred due to the reckless disregard of the executives who had full knowledge of the flaws in the plant. It remarked that the executives failed to plan evacuation of the residents even after having knowledge of the leakage during that night and to add to the situation the safety sirens in the premises were not working. The constitution bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Vineeth Saran, Justice MR Shah and Justice Ravindra Bhat will hear the plea of central government for additional compensation for the victims of the unfortunate disaster.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Five-Judge Bench to hear curative petition seeking additional compensation for victims: https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/bhopal-gas-tragedy-five-judge-bench-to-hear-curative-petition-for-additional-compensation-for-victims, (last visited on 26th January,2020)
2. Legal Services India, Legal Aspects of Bhopal Gas tragedy, Deepikanuals, http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/373/Legal-Aspects-of-the-Bhopal-Gas-Tragedy.html, (last visited on 26th January,2020)
3. Constitution Bench To Hear Centre’s Curative Petition In Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case Next Week [Read Notice], https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/constitution-bench-cases-january-28-151992, (last visited on 26th January,2020)