The Supreme Court Tuesday said Chief Justice of India S A Bobde will take a call on the composition of the bench for hearing the matter relating to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy after Justice S Ravindra Bhat recused himself from hearing the plea, saying he had appeared for the Centre as a lawyer earlier in the matter. The Centre’s plea seeks Rs 7,844 crore additionals fund from successor firms of US-based Union Carbide Corporation for providing compensation to victims.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra adjourned the hearing till Wednesday. “We will not take it up today. We are waiting for CJI’s order,” said the bench also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and Bhat.
“I had appeared for the Union of India in the matter when union had sought review,” said Justice Bhatt as he expressed his unwillingness to be part of the bench to hear the matter.
The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), now owned by Dow Chemicals, gave a compensation of $ 470 million (Rs 715 crore at the time of settlement) after the toxic gas leak from the Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 killed over 3,000 people and affected 1.02 lakh more.
Thousands of people had died in the tragedy and thousands more injured when deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from the UCC’s Indian subsidiary Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.
Meanwhile, according to a UN report, the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy is among the world’s “major industrial accidents” of the 20th century. The report has also warned that 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year.
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