NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a curative petition filed by the Union government in 2010 for additional compensation of Rs 7,844 crore from Union Carbide Corporation's successor firm for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath and J K Maheshwari rejected the plea, saying it has got no foundation on legal principles.
The court said entertaining the plea decades after the settlement will open a Pandora's box.
It also expressed dissatisfaction over the Union government raking up the issue decades after the settlement without furnishing any rationale for it.
The court also said the settlement could be set aside on the ground of fraud alone but no such claim has been pleaded by the Union government. It also pointed out the Centre itself had earlier stated that the amount paid by the UCC was sufficient to satisfy all the claims of the victims.
The court said it was the responsibility of the Union government to make good of deficiency in the compensation. It also pointed out there was gross negligence on the part of the central and state governments to take insurance policies for the victims.
The court also said a sum of Rs 50 Cr of the compensation still lying with the RBI should be utilised for satisfying pending claims.
On January 12, the court had reserved its judgement upon hearing senior advocate Harish Salve on behalf of the successor firms of the Union Carbide, Attorney General R Venkataramani for the Centre and senior advocate Sanjay Parikh and advocate Karuna Nundy for the victims.
The Centre wanted another Rs 7,844 crore from the US-based UCC's successor firms over and above the USD 470 million (Rs 715 crore) it got from the American company as part of the settlement in 1989.
In its curative plea filed in 2010, the Centre has contended that the compensation, determined in 1989, was arrived at on assumptions of truth unrelated to realities. The court had issued notice in the matter in 2011.
Opposing the plea, the company, submitted that there should be a finality to the litigation as the curative petition was filed 19 years after the review petition was decided.
It also said the settlement of USD 470 million (Rs 715 crore) had taken place because a judicial order was passed by a district judge in 1987.