The Center told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it will launch litigation seeking additional compensation from US firm Union Carbide Corporation for survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
The Modi government has informed the Supreme Court that it will go ahead with the curative declaration submitted by the government of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking additional compensation for the victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy.
During Tuesday’s hearing, a five-judge constitutional court headed by Judge SK Kaul said that Union Carbide has questioned the sustainability of petitions filed by non-governmental organizations seeking to be heard in the case. The company questioned why the NGOs approached the court 19 years after the ruling, reported Live Law.
“The government is very interested in continuing this matter… It is a concern of the government that we cannot abandon the victims”, presented the Attorney General of India, R. Venkataramani, representing the Union, before a Constitutional Court directed by Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
“The Government would represent the complaints of people who have suffered and therefore the Attorney General’s office and the defendant’s office would be required to prepare a compilation,” the court said.
At the previous hearing, on September 20, Attorney General Tushar Mehta sought more time to obtain instructions from the government, as the case came up for hearing after a lull of several years.
The court had said at that hearing that it would proceed only after the government made clear its position on whether or not it wanted to press the curative statement. The five-judge court published the case on October 11 to hear the government’s response.
“We are interested…tragedy unfolds almost every day. More than one aspect of the matter has to be unravelled perhaps for the first time. I have looked elsewhere for examples both in opening settlements. We have considerable literature when the courts have gone beyond the settlements,” presented Venkataramani.
Nawab Khan, a member of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, said that unless the death and injury figures are corrected immediately, the Center’s curative appeal will only “heap more injustice” on the survivors of the industrial accident, The Hindu reported. .
“Among the strongest voices criticizing the UPA government in 2010 for Bhopal were the leaders of the current government, but since they came to power they are nowhere to be seen,” Khan said.
Union Carbide Corporation, now owned by Dow Chemicals, was awarded $470 million (Rs 750 crore) compensation following the 1989 Supreme Court ruling. The agreement was based on the previous figure of 3,000 dead and 70,000 wounded. However, the curative petition has put the death toll at 5,295 and injuries at 527,894.
Meanwhile, Leaders of five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster expressed satisfaction at the government’s commitment to pursue the Curative Petition for additional compensation in the Supreme Court at today’s hearing.
In a statement issued to Ground Report, Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said “It is indeed heartening that the Attorney General assured the five-judge bench that he will be ready with facts and arguments to argue the case for enhanced compensation at the next hearing.”
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said “the government is just claiming a refund of the money it has spent in compensating Bhopal victims. This will not benefit the survivors. Unless the figures of death and the extent of injury are corrected immediately, the Curative Petition will heap more injustice on the Bhopal survivors”.
Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow-Carbide, said “Every day we see the health damage done to an entire generation born after the disaster, and we hope the government will recognise our damaged children to be victims of this criminal corporation when they present their claims at the next hearing.”
The court scheduled the next case for January 10.
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