Bhopal gas tragedy: SC to hear Centre’s plea for additional funds on Feb 11

PTI

File photo - Supreme Court of India

File photo – Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear on February 11 the Centre’s plea seeking Rs 7,844 crore as additional funds from successor firms of the US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) for giving compensation to victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also said that the plea would be heard by the apex court in a “different combination” of judges.

Justice S Ravindra Bhat, who is part of the five-judge bench, on Tuesday had offered to recuse himself from hearing the matter saying he had earlier appeared as a lawyer for the Centre when the review plea in the case was adjudicated upon.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Mishra said, “We will hear this on February 11 in different combination (of judges).”

Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench, also comprising justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Bhat, that a full-fledged hearing in the matter may not be possible from February 11 as different benches of the apex court would be hearing the Sabarimala case and pleas relating to abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

To this, the bench said it would consider this aspect on February 11 and fix the time schedule of hearing, in this case, keeping in mind the hearing in other matters.

The UCC, now owned by Dow Chemicals, gave a compensation of USD 470 million (Rs 715 crore at the time of settlement in 1989) after toxic 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.

The apex court is to hear the curative petition filed by the Centre seeking a direction to Union Carbide and other firms for Rs 7,844 crore for additional funds over and above the earlier settlement amount of USD 470 million for paying compensation to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims.

Over 3,000 people had died in the tragedy due to release of methyl isocyanate gas.

The survivors of the tragedy have been fighting for long for adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for ailments caused by the toxic leak.

The Centre had filed the curative petition in the apex court in December 2010 for enhanced compensation.

On June 7, 2010, a Bhopal court had convicted seven executives the of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) to two years’ imprisonment in connection with the incident.

The then UCC chairman Warren Anderson was the prime accused in the case but did not appear for the trial.

On February 1, 1992, the Bhopal CJM court had declared him as an absconder.

The courts in Bhopal had issued non-bailable warrants against Anderson twice — in 1992 and 2009.

Anderson died in September 2014.

(PTI)