28 January 2020
New Delhi: A Supreme Court judge on Tuesday recused from hearing the Centre's plea seeking Rs 7,844 crore as additional funds from the firms succeeding US-based Union Carbide Corporation, currently owned by Dow Chemicals, to disburse as compensation to victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
The matter was adjourned for further hearing on Wednesday.
A five-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M.R. Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat was set up to conduct the hearing on the curative petition seeking increased compensation for the victims.
During the brief hearing, Justice Mishra said Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has "some difficulty" in hearing the matter. Justice Bhat said that he had appeared for the Union of India in the matter when it sought review. The court said the Chief Justice will take a call on re-constituting the bench.
However, as per list of business for Wednesday, uploaded on the apex court's website, the matter is listed before the same bench.
The Centre is seeking directions to Union Carbide and other firms to pay an additional amount of Rs 7,844 crore, which is over and above the earlier settlement amount of $470 million in 1989, as compensation.
Since 1984, the victims have been fighting a long battle for adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for ailments caused due to the gas leak. In December 2010, the Centre had filed the curative petition in the apex court.
In June 2010, a Bhopal court had convicted seven executives of Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) and sentenced them to two years imprisonment. Warren Anderson, then UCC Chairman, was the key accused, but he never appeared for the trial.
In 1992, the court had declared him an absconder and twice issued non-bailable warrants him in 1992 and 2009. Anderson died in September 2014.
The toxic gas leak from the Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 killed over 3,000 people, affecting 1.02 lakh more.