In a major setback for the Centre, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed its plea seeking enhanced compensation from Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. The apex court said that the settlement amount of $470 million was final and binding and could not be reopened after 36 years. The court also said that it was not satisfied with the evidence presented by the Centre to show that UCC had concealed crucial facts about the nature and extent of the toxic gas leak that killed thousands of people and injured lakhs more.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy Supreme Court (SC) verdict is out today. The SC of India has dismissed the Centre’s curative petition seeking additional compensation of Rs 7400 crore from the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.
The court referred to the proceedings culminating in the court’s July 19, 2004, ruling on review petitions and said that the claimants had already been provided compensation more than what was reasonably awarded to them under the law.
The bench also noted that the settlement amount was sufficient to compensate the claimants and that reopening the case would open a Pandora’s box to the detriment of the beneficiaries. The court held that the Centre’s claim for a top-up “has no foundation in any known legal principle.”
In its ruling, the supreme court criticized the Centre for not taking out the relevant insurance policy, which it called “gross negligence” and a “breach of the directions made in the review judgement.” The court held that the responsibility was placed on the Union of India, being a welfare state, to make good the deficiency and to take out the relevant insurance policy.
The bench added that “even assuming that the figures of affected persons turned out to be larger than contemplated earlier, an excess amount of funds remain available to satisfy such claims.” The Welfare Commissioner has held that nearly six times the amount of compensation had been dispersed to the victims in comparison with motor vehicle accident claims.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy – No road for reopening
The court’s ruling is significant as it provides closure to the matter and prevents the reopening of the case. The court noted that reopening the case would open a Pandora’s box in UCC’s favour and to the detriment of the beneficiaries.
The Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 was one of the worst industrial disasters in the world. The disaster occurred when a gas leak from a pesticide plant owned by UCC in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, killed thousands of people and injured many others. The tragedy has had far-reaching consequences for the victims, their families, and the community at large.
In candy case, the Supreme Court’s decision is expected to provide some relief to the victims and their families. The court has held that a sum of Rs 50 crore lying with the Reserve Bank of India shall be used by the Union of India to satisfy pending claims, if any, in accordance with the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act, 1985, and the scheme framed thereunder.
The Bhopal gas tragedy has been a controversial issue for several decades, and the court’s decision is likely to be debated and discussed by various stakeholders. However, for the victims and their families, the court’s decision provides some closure and hope for a better future.
As Justice Sanjiv Khanna said in his judgment, “The time has come to close the chapter and provide the much-needed healing touch.” The court’s ruling is expected to bring some closure and justice to the victims and their families, who have been waiting for justice for decades.