The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the Centre’s curative plea seeking an additional Rs 7,844 crore from the Union Carbide Corporation’s (UCC) successor firms to extend higher compensation to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that killed over 3,000 people and caused environmental damage.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said there was no rationale by the Centre to rake up the issue two decades after the settlement.
The government had argued that the enormity of the actual damage caused to human lives and the environment could not be assessed properly at the time of the settlement in 1989.
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Court not satisfied
The top court said that a sum of Rs 50 crore lying with the RBI for the victims shall be utilised by the Union of India to satisfy pending claims of victims.
“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.
The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath and J K Maheshwar, had on January 12 reserved its verdict on the Centre’s curative plea. The Centre wanted another Rs 7,844 crore from the UCC’s successor firms 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.
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The Centre had not filed a review petition for rescinding the settlement which it now wants to be enhanced.
The UCC, now owned by Dow Chemicals, gave a compensation of USD 470 million in 1989 after the toxic methyl isocyanate gas leak from the Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, killed over 3,000 people and affected 1.02 lakh more.
(With inputs from agencies)