The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the Centre’s curative petition for an additional Rs 7,400 crore from US-based Union Carbide Corporation, now owned by Dow Chemicals, to give higher compensation to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that resulted in the death of 5,295 people, injuries to almost 5,68,292 persons besides loss of livestock and loss of property of almost 5,478 persons.
The leak of the toxic Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas from the plant of the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) on intervening night of December 2/3 1984 led to the death of 5,295 people and injuries to almost 5,68,292 people. Hundreds of thousands of people are still suffering from the toxic side-effects, decades later.
A five-judge constitution bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Abhay S Oka, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J K Maheshwari said that there was no rationale to rake up the issue two decades after the settlement was arrived at.
“We are unsatisfied with the Union of India for not furnishing any rationale for raking up this issue after two decades…We are of the view that curative petitions cannot be entertained,” the bench said rejecting the curative partition for more compensation from the Dow Chemicals.
The court noted that a sum of Rs 50 crore was still lying with the Reserve Bank of India and the same shall be utilised for the victims by the Centre to satisfy pending claims of the victims.
The constitution bench had reserved its verdict on January 12 after holding the hearing that was spread over three days.
The Centre wanted additional Rs 7,400 crores from Dow Chemicals over and above the USD 470 million (Rs 715 crore) it got from the American company as part of the settlement in 1989.
A curative petition is the last resort for a plaintiff after an adverse judgement has been delivered and the plea for its review is rejected. The Centre had not filed a review petition for rescinding the settlement which now it wants to be enhanced.
The UCC, now owned by Dow Chemicals, gave a compensation of Rs USD 470 million in 1989 after the toxic methyl isocyanate gas leak from the Union Carbide plant caused immense human suffering.