On Monday, 28 January, the Supreme Court in Delhi finally agreed to hear the central government’s (GoI) curative petition calling for increased compensation to victims of the Bhopal Gas Disaster from the successor firms of Union Carbide. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said it would hear the central government’s petition in April.
The stated aim of the petition is to: ‘cure the gross miscarriage of justice and perpetration of irremediable injustice being suffered by the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy’. The hearing of the 2010 petition had been due since the last scheduled hearing was postponed in August 2014.
According to reports in the Indian press the GoI plea calls for an amount of approximately $1.1 billion over and above the earlier $470m settlement and, whilst any kind of movement on this case is extremely welcome, the proposed settlement is at the very lowest end of what the GoI was seeking i.e. $1– 1.5 billion and massively below the figure disaster survivors’ organisations are seeking.
The figure sought by the GoI is based on figures for the dead and injured which are higher than the orignal settlement, but the survivors’ groups have challenged the Government to use its own, previously published, figures (Indian Council of Medical Research, epidemiological report, 2004) for the dead and injured which would require a settlement of $8.1billion.
The respondents to the petition are Dow Chemical, Union Carbide Corporation, Union Carbide India Limited and Eveready Industries.