The Supreme Court will hear on March 21 an application seeking to reopen the 1989 settlement between the Government of India and Union Carbide Corporation involving the payment of 470 million dollars, on the grounds of inadequacy of the compensation amount.
A bench comprising Mr. Justice B N Srikrishna and Mr Justice Lokesh Singh Panta while hearing the PIL moved by Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udhyog Sanghathan also directed both the parties to file additional documents and written arguements by March 21, 2006.
Counsel for the petitioner Indira Jaisingh pleaded that 3,000 lost their lives and over one lakh people were affected or injured in the gas leak from UCC in December 1984 and the compensation was totally inadequate for those poor victims who are suffering from the after affects of leakage of poisonous gas.
The settlement was arrived at in the Supreme Court and the bench was headed by the then chief justice R S Pathak.
The Apex Court also fixed for hearing on the same day a petition seeking release of about Rs 37 crores lying attached in the court of judicial magistrate, Bhopal where criminal case is still pending against the UCC chairman and other officials who have been proclaimed “absconders from justice” in the case of criminal negligence.
Senior counsel R K Jain appearing for the Trust running the charitable hospital treating the victims of the gas leak tragedy, sought the release of funds on the plea that it was required for the maintenance of the hospital.
The Apex Court also said that it will hear the application for release of funds also on March 21 and would take a decision on that day on whether the petitioner sanghthan should be allowed access to the accounts of the trust.
Ms Indira Jaisingh, however opposed the release of the funds on the grounds that since 1996 to this day no accounts have been submitted by the Trustees and there is a misappropiation of trust funds to the tune of Rs 150 crores.
The amount of Rs 342 crores from the attachment of the shares of the company was earmarked for construction of the charitable hospital in Bhopal for the treatment of the victims. Mr Jain, however, contended that audited accounts from 1998 to March 31,2003 have already been filed in the court in sealed cover.
Ms Singh alleged that the funds have been frittered away illegally and demanded that her client should be given a copy of the accounts for scrutiny. Mr Jain vehementally opposed the plea of access to accounts by the petitioner.