Take Stand on Bhopal Gas Tragedy Compensation: Supreme Court to Centre
- SC grants time till October 11 to get instructions from Centre on compensation
- A curative petition seeking enhancement of compensation to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, over and above the $470 million already paid by Union was filed. Carbide.
- Around 5,295 humans died after MIC escaped from Union Carbide India Limited in Bhopal, 1984.
New Delhi: 12 years after the Manmohan Singh government moved the Supreme Court to revise the compensation owed by Union Carbide and its parent company Dow Chemicals for the Bhopal gas tragedy, the court is now set to hear the issue from October 11.
A constitutional bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul gave Solicitor General Tushar Mehta time till October 11 to get instructions from the Centre on whether it wants to “press” its curative petition seeking enhancement of compensation to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, over and above the $470 million already paid by Union Carbide.
“The government will have to take a stand whether it is going to press the curative petition or not,” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, heading the five-judge Bench, observed.
During the brief hearing on Tuesday, advocate Karuna Nundy representing the victims and the petitioner now said they must be heard before the matter is decided by the court. The lawyer also argued that even if the government does not support their claim to the compensation amount, they should be heard by the court.
The tragedy had unfolded in Bhopal (in the State of Madhya Pradesh) on the intervening night of December 2-3,1984 when the highly dangerous and toxic gas, Methyl Isocyanate (MIC), escaped from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). It resulted in the death of 5,295 human beings, injuries to almost 5,68,292 persons’ loss of livestock and loss of property of almost 5,478 persons.
The company had initially agreed to pay around $470 million as compensation, but the victims demanded more from the company for distribution among those who have been injured and continue to suffer after the incident. The company- now a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemicals Co., U.S.; Dow Chemicals; McLeod Russel India, Kolkata, and Eveready Industries, argued that the claims made by the victims’ organisations cannot be taken up by the court.
“They did not move the petitions till 19 years after the incident and the settlement,” the counsel appearing for the company argued.