The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to hear in open court two curative petitions filed by the CBI and the Centre in connection with the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy seeking restoration of the stringent charge of culpable homicide against the accused and enhancement of compensation for the victims.
The petition in which the Centre has sought enhancement of compensation from Rs 750 crore to Rs 7,700 crore for victims was listed for hearing today but the apex court decided to take both the matters together on February 28 after perusing the documents relating to the case.
A five-judge bench headed by chief justice S H Kapadia took the decision during chamber proceedings on the two curative petitions, separetely filed by the CBI and the Centre.
"Place these petitions in the court," the bench also comprising Justices Altamas Kabir, R V Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and Aftab Alam, said. Curative petitions are generally heard in chambers of judges by circulation.
The apex court bench had on August 31 last decided to to re-examine its own judgement that led to lighter punishment of two years imprisonment for the accused including former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra.
The court had sought response from the seven accused on the CBI plea seeking restoration of the stringent charge of culpable homicide, which attracts a maximum punishment of 10 years' jail term, against them for the world's worst industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed.
Besides Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, the then Managing Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, then Vice President, J N Mukund, then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, then Production Manager, K V Shetty, then Plant Superintendent and S I Quereshi, then Production Assistant were convicted and sentenced to two years' jail term by a trial court in Bhopal on June 7 this year.
Government had on December 3, the anniversary of the tragedy, moved the apex court seeking enhancment of compensation from Rs 750 crore to Rs 7,700 crore for the victims.
However, it had not issued notices on the plea of Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers seeking payment of additional damages from Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), Dow Chemicals Company (which owns UCC since 2001), Mcleod Russel India having 50.9% share-holding of UCIL, and UCIL, which is currently known as Eveready Industries Ltd.