Bhopal gas tragedy: SC junks govt plea on ex gratia, notes 50 crore lying with RBI

By, New Delhi
Mar 14, 2023 11:37 AM IST

The Supreme Court said a sum of ₹50 crore lying with the RBI for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims shall be utilised by the Centre to satisfy pending claims of victims.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the curative petition filed by the Centre in 2010 demanding an additional compensation of 7,400 crore from Union Carbide for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. The apex court said the plea is not maintainable in law and also lacked merits on the facts of this case.

Bhopal gas disaster survivors hold posters during a protest rally. (AFP file)
Bhopal gas disaster survivors hold posters during a protest rally. (AFP file)

The court pulled up the Centre for not framing the insurance policy for the victims in terms of its undertaking given to the court earlier.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said there was no rationale by the Centre to rake up the issue two decades after the settlement.

The court added that a sum of 50 crore lying with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the victims shall be utilised by the Union of India to satisfy pending claims of victims.

“We are unsatisfied with the Union of India for not furnishing any rationale for raking up this issue after two decades...We are of the view that curative petitions cannot be entertained,” the bench said.

The bench also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath and JK Maheshwar had on January 12 reserved its verdict on the Centre's curative plea.

The Centre wanted another 7,844 crore from the UCC's successor firms over and above the USD 470 million ( 715 crore) it got from the American company as part of the settlement in 1989.

A curative petition is the last resort for a plaintiff after an adverse judgement has been delivered and the plea for its review is rejected. The Centre had not filed a review petition for rescinding the settlement which it now wants to be enhanced.

The UCC, now owned by Dow Chemicals, gave a compensation of USD 470 million in 1989 after the toxic methyl isocyanate 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.

(With inputs from PTI)

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