The Supreme Court rejected the Centre’s plea seeking additional compensation from Union Carbide in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.


On December 2, 1984, 3,000 people died after the Bhopal gas leak.

New Delhi:
In a major setback for the Centre, the Supreme Court today dismissed Union Carbide’s plea seeking additional compensation for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. The gas leak, which killed more than 3,000 people, is one of the worst industrial accidents in the world.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from this great event

  1. The Center has asked the Union Carbide successor companies to reopen the case and pay an additional Rs 7,844 crore to the victims of the gas leak. He argued that the enormity of the real damage to human life and the environment during the 1989 settlement cannot be properly assessed.

  2. Dismissing the plea, a five-judge Constitution bench said the agreement could be set aside only on the ground of fraud and the center had not disputed the issue.

  3. The court also said that the center had not given any reason to initiate the case after two decades. It directed that an amount of Rs 50 crore due to the Reserve Bank of India be used to meet outstanding claims.

  4. “We are not satisfied that the Union of India has not given any justification to raise this issue after two decades… We are of the view that the curative petitions cannot be entertained,” the bench said. “If reopened, it could open Pandora’s box and harm the complainants,” he added.

  5. A Constitution Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Abhay S Oka, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JK Maheshwar reserved its verdict on the petition on January 12.

  6. The successor companies, represented by Union Carbide’s lead lawyer Harish Salve, told the court that the depreciation of the rupee since 1989 was no basis for seeking “top-up” compensation now. The firms said the center never suggested it was inadequate during the settlement.

  7. During the hearing, the court asked the government to “dip into its own pocket” to provide additional compensation. Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemicals, paid Rs 715 crore in compensation in 1989 as part of a settlement.

  8. On December 2, 1984, toxic methyl isocyanate gas was released from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. More than 3,000 people were killed and more than a million were injured.

  9. Warren Anderson, then president of Union Carbide, was the main defendant in the case, but did not appear in court. A court in Bhopal declared him a fugitive in 1992. Two non-bailable warrants were issued before his death in 2014. On June 7, 2010, a court in Bhopal sentenced seven executives of Union Carbide India Limited to two years in prison.

  10. In December 2010, the Center filed a petition for additional compensation with the Supreme Court. A petition to cure is a last resort after an adverse decision is rendered and a petition for reconsideration is denied. The Center did not file a review motion to stop the settlement, but sought an increase in the amount.


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