Bhopal gas tragedy: SC dismisses Plea for More Compensation from Union Carbide

NEW DELHI: In a major setback on Tuesday, a five-bench constitution bench rejected the Centres plea seeking more compensation from Union Carbide for the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy. A gas leak in 1984 that killed more than 3,000 people- is regarded as the world’s industrial disaster.

The bench, headed by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, noted all previous proceedings related to the incident before the top court unequivocally recorded that the settlement amount of $470 million was sufficient to meet the present and future claims of the victims. The apex court bench also underscored that the settlement can be set aside only on the ground of fraud and that the centre did not argue on this point.

It further added that the centre had not provided any rationale for raking up this matter after two decades. The bench has directed that Rs 50 crore lying with the RBI be used to clear the pending compensation.

The Centre in its plea had sought the case be reopened and an additional compensation of Rs 7,844 crore be paid by the successors of Union Carbide to the victims. It argued that the actual damage could not be assessed by the damage caused to the properties then. Through the curative plea moved in 2010, the government sought reconsideration of the court’s 1989 and 1991 orders. The government argued the 1989 settlement of $470 million was grossly inadequate.

The bench on January 12 reserved its verdict in the matter while stressing the Union government and the company mutually agreed to the $470 million settlement in 1989 towards “all past, present and future claims”. It added the court did not thrust the settlement upon the parties.

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