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Curative Petition on Bhopal Gas Tragedy Listed for Hearing in April

The government’s petition was originally filed in 2010 on the basis that the SC’s 1989 judgement assessed the quantum of compensation on lower figures of deaths and injuries. The government also mentioned that the judgement did not take the environmental impact into account.
Curative Petition

File Photo : Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster: 33 years Later, Search For Justice Continues

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Madhavi Divan has requested the Chief Justice of India (CJI) through an oral mention for a curative petition regarding the Bhopal Gast tragedy to be listed. The CJI has agreed to list the petition in April.

As mentioned by Livelaw, the curative petition had been filed in 2010 regarding the February 14, 1989 Judgement of the Supreme Court where Union Carbide was ordered to pay a compensation of USD 470 million or INR 750 crore. The petition has also sought the Court to re-examine the subsequent Orders passed on February 15 and May 4 as well. It is astounding that the petition has finally been listed after nine years since it was filed. What is perhaps a greater cause of concern is that it was listed for hearing only after an oral mentioning. One would not be wrong to ask why it could not have been similarly mentioned in 2010 when it was filed.

The grounds for which the curative petition was filed were that the Judgement did not take into account the environmental degradation that resulted from the tragedy as well as the fact that the number of deaths and injuries were under-represented. The basis for determining the settlement amount was that there were 3,000 deaths and 70,000 injuries. However, in the curative petition, the figures stand at 5,295 deaths and 5,27,894 injuries.

Also Read | Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Fight to Seek Justice for Victims Still on

In the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, a gas leak occurred in the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal. This led to the people living around the plant to be exposed to methyl isocyanate gas. The company claimed that the leak was an act of sabotage.

Also Read | Bhopal Running Away From Bhopal Gas Tragedy?

However, survivors’ groups maintain that there was indeed negligence on the part of Union Carbide. The Delhi Science Forum was one of the first organisations to bring out a report on the disaster. According to their report, Union Carbide had installed obsolete and unreliable safety systems in its Bhopal plant. They also found that, prior to the disaster, even the safety systems had been turned off for reasons of economy or for maintenance. Their report also stated that untrained personnel were stationed in critical areas of the plant.

At present, Union Carbide does not exist. Its stake in UCIL was sold to Eveready Industries India Limited which later merged with McLeod Russel (India) Limited. The main parent company was purchased by Dow Chemical in 2001. Dow Chemical has since merged with E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company and is now known as Dow-DuPont. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Dow-DuPont will seek to avoid Union Carbide’s liability.

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