The Supreme Court rejected the Centre's demand on Tuesday for an extra Rs 7,844 crore in compensation from Union Carbide for the Bhopal gas catastrophe of 1984, which resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people. The court emphasized the need for resolution, stating that failure to do so would risk opening a Pandora's box in UCC's favour and to the harm of the beneficiaries.
A Constitution bench made up of Justices S K Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, A S Oka, Vikram Nath, and J K Maheshwari described the events leading up to the Supreme Court's decision on the case's review petitions on July 19, 2004.
The top court said that any unsettled claims shall be settled out of the Rs 50 crore that is being kept by the RBI for the victims by the Union of India. “We believe this would not be the appropriate course of action…”, it said. “We are equally dissatisfied with the Union of India being unable to furnish any rationale for raking up this affected issue more than two decades after the incident”.
“It was known that medical facilities will have to be extended to rehabilitate people and there was bound to be environmental degradation. In fact, it was UCC’s allegation that Union and State did not proactively detoxify or recommission the site thereby aggravating the problem. In candy case, this cannot be a ground to seek annulment of the compromise particularly as the settlement has to be reached in an expeditious manner”. - The Bench
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