Bhopal Gas Tragedy: SC Rejects Centre’s Plea for Enhanced Compensation for Victims

 - Sakshi Post

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the Centre's curative plea seeking additional compensation of Rs 7,400 crore for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy. The apex court said the plea, filed by the Centre in 2010, cannot be entertained now.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul pulled up the Centre for raking up the issue two decades after the settlement. The court said that the centre had not provided any rationale for raking up this matter. The court added that reopening the case would open a Pandora's box. 

It may be noted here the Centre in its curative petition had sought direction to Union Carbide and other firms for over Rs 7,400 crore additional amount over and above the earlier settlement amount of USD 470 million (Rs 715 crore at the time of settlement in 1989) for paying compensation to the gas tragedy victims.

Meanwhile, Harish Salve, the counsel for the successor of Union Carbide, told the court that depreciation of the rupee since 1989 cannot be a ground to seek a ‘top-up’ of compensation now. 

The top court said failure to take insurance policies is gross negligence on the part of the Government of India. The court also said a sum of Rs 50 crore lying with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the victims shall be utilised by the Union of India to satisfy pending claims of victims. 

The Constitution bench, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Abhay S Oka, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J K Maheshwar, had on January 12 reserved its verdict on the Centre’s curative petition.

The Bhopal gas tragedy, termed as the world’s worst industrial disaster, had resulted in the death of 5,295 people while leaving almost 5,68,292 persons injured. The tragedy had also resulted in the loss of livestock and loss of property of almost 5,478 persons. The worst industrial disaster happened when the 47 tonnes of lethal methyl isocyanate gas was released at the Bhopal plant of Union Carbide, India, Ltd. (UCIL) on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

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