The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) wants an early hearing of the Centre’s plea asking the Supreme Court to review its 30-year-old decision and increase the compensation it awarded to the victims of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy from Rs 750 crore to Rs 7,700 crore.
The company moved an application before the top court, seeking an early disposal of the petition on the ground that NGOs and social activists were “using pendency of the proceedings to besmirch the company’s reputation on the basis of unsubstantial allegations.”
It said the yearly campaigns related to the tragedy cited the petition as evidence of the fact that Bhopal matter hadn’t been closed. This is third such application filed by UCC.
The UPA government had in December 2010 moved a curative petition before the SC to increase the compensation amount for the victims.
The curative petition on the compensation coincided with the 26th anniversary of tragedy in which the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers sought the re-examination of SC’s February 14, 1989 verdict by which the compensation was fixed at Rs 750 crore and subsequent orders of February 15 and May 4 determining the mode of payment and settlement.
In February 2011, a bench headed by then Chief Justice SH Kapadia issued a notice to the company. The bench had then said it would hear the case on day-to-day basis from April 13, 2011.
When the matter wasn’t taken up, UCC filed an application for an early hearing. On April 12, 2012 it moved the court for the second time seeking specific directions for fixing a date to hear and conclude the curative petition.
“The company has been subjected to an unprecedented and heightened media campaign by certain interest groups. This campaign was laden with false information and insinuations,” the UCC claimed in its latest plea.
It said activists have blamed the company for not bringing a closure to the Bhopal matter despite the fact that over a quarter of a century has gone by since the tragedy.