NEW DELHI: Questioning the Centre for claiming additional compensation from Union Carbide for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy by seeking an amendment to the mutually agreed deal under which the American company had paid $470 million (Rs 715 crore at the time of settlement in 1989) as final settlement, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said this can have wider ramifications, particularly when many international companies are coming to the country with investments. The government has sought additional funds of over Rs 7,400 crore from the pesticide producer.
A five-judge bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath and J K Maheshwari, which is hearing a curative petition filed by the Centre, said populism cannot be the basis of judicial review and the “sanctity of the settlement” would go away if the case is reopened. Pointing out that Rs 50 crore of the compensation amount is lying unutilised, the bench asked why the government was asking for more funds.
Attorney general R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, tried to justify the government’s claim, saying that it was an extraordinary case in which the actual damage to environment and human lives was not known at the time of settlement. It has been assessed subsequently, he added.
He said the number of deaths increased over the years and also the number of people who were affected by the horror of the incident that had gripped the entire city on the intervening night of December 2-3,1984.
The Centre had sought a relook of the May 4, 1989 order by which settlement was approved by the apex court and subsequent order on review plea.
The Centre’s plea was strongly opposed by senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the company, who said that the amount given by it was sufficient for compensation and submitted that the settlement had to be set aside and a suit filed by the government should be revived to decide the compensation. The AG said that the government did not want annulment but amendment of the settlement to meet legitimate claims.
The bench, however, raised the question whether the court in its curative jurisdiction can decide the issue when the two parties mutually settled the issue years ago. “The settlement was between two parties. It is the Union of India and it cannot be said that it was a weak party. Maybe you are right that it was not the best settlement and people should get more compensation but we have to decide it within the scope of the curative petition,” the bench told the AG.
The court said that the government can initiate separate proceedings, if allowed under the law, to raise additional claims. However, it also said that the scope of the curative petition would be very limited. It said populism cannot be the basis of judicial review and the court had to confine its hearing within the constraints and limitation of a curative jurisdiction.
The company questioned the maintainability of the government’s curative plea and pleaded that the Centre had not even filed a review petition against the settlement order and the curative has been filed after a gap of 19 years.
The tragedy had unfolded in Bhopal in 1984 when the highly dangerous and toxic gas, methyl isocynate, escaped from the plant of Union Carbide India Ltd. It resulted in the death of 5,295 people, caused injuries to 5,68,292 others, besides affecting 5,478 more with loss of livestock and property.

Source link

Previous articleDelhi India’s most polluted city, just 7% cleaner in 3 years | India News – Times of India
Next article‘Romeo and Juliet’ director son hits out sexual abuse lawsuit


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here