CURATIVE PETITION IN BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY CASE
16th January, 2023 Polity and Governance
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- A Supreme Court Constitution Bench stated that the court will not "try" the curative petition of the Union government like a suit, and will not re-opening a compensation settlement of about $470 million finalized with the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in the Bhopal gas leak tragedy case.
- The court was hearing the government's curative plea that was filed in 2010, to increase the compensation amount.
- The Union government wants the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) to pay more compensation.
- The company clearly said that it would not pay any extra amount as the settlement was already reached with the government in 1989.
- In 2002, Supreme Court in the Ashok Hurra v/s Rupa Hurra case evolved the principle of Curative jurisdiction.
- Supreme Court can accept curative petitions only based on two limited grounds.
- He/she was not allowed to be heard.
- The judges were biased.
- After the dismissal of the review petition, the curative petition is the last legal option open in the Supreme Court of India.
- According to the constitution, a judgment of the Supreme Court (SC) becomes the law of the land.
- Under Article 137, SC can review its own decision, which is known as a review petition.
- Under review petition, Court is not allowed to take fresh stock of the case but to correct grave errors that have resulted in the miscarriage of justice.
- Any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review and file a review petition. However, the court has the discretion to allow a review petition.
- Conditions for Review petition
- To correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”.
- A review can be accepted “only where a glaring omission or patent mistake or like grave error has crept in earlier by judicial fallibility”.
- Mistakes or errors are apparent on the face of the record.
- Any other sufficient reason. It means a reason that is analogous to the other two grounds.
- A review is not an appeal whereby an erroneous decision is reheard and corrected but lies only for patent error.
- The possibility of two views on the subject cannot be a ground for review.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
- The Bhopal disaster, also known as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a chemical accident on the night of 2nd-3rd December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
- The industrial disaster is considered the world's worst in history.
- Harmful Methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas started leaking from the Union Carbide pesticide plant, eventually resulting in the Bhopal Gas tragedy, where an estimated 3,000 people died within the first few days. Over time, many suffered life-long health issues.
- People living in nearby areas reported a burning sensation in their eyes and difficulties in breathing, with many also losing consciousnesses.
- A report by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) said at least 30 tonnes of the poisonous gas affected more than 600,000 workers and nearby inhabitants.
- Multiple analyses have alleged that the leak was a result of general laxity in safety rules, and in the training of the workers, most of whom were unaware of the MIC’s dangers.
- The case led to a focus on the need for protecting people and the environment from industrial accidents; afterwards, new laws were introduced by the government.
- Major laws passed since 1984 include the Environment (Protection) Act, of 1986, which authorized the Union government to take relevant measures and regulate the industrial activity for environmental and public safety.
- The Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991, which provides public liability insurance for providing immediate relief to the persons affected by an accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance, was also passed.
- The Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act was passed in 1985, giving certain powers to the Indian government for settling claims. It said the Central Government would have the “exclusive right” to represent, and act in place of every person connected with the claims.