SC: Justice Bhat recuses himself from Bhopal case

Bhopal gas tragedy: Justice Bhat recuses himself from SC's 5-judge bench

He was sitting in a five-judge bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra. (Credit: DH Photo)

A Supreme Court judge, Justice S Ravindra Bhat on Tuesday recused himself from hearing a curative petition filed by the Centre in 2010 for direction to the Union Carbide Corporation to pay enhanced compensation of over Rs 7,400 crore to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy case.

Justice Bhat was a counsel for the Indian government in settling the amount in 1989.

As soon as the matter came up for consideration before the bench, also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, and M R Shah, Justice Bhat preferred to opt out of the proceedings.

The tragedy following the leak of methyl isocyanate at a plant of Union Carbide India Ltd in Bhopal had officially claimed lives of 5,295 people and left over 5 lakh afflicted with deadly diseases.

The Centre had in December 2010 filed the curative petition in the apex court seeking an order to UCC for enhancing the settlement amount and reimbursement amount of Rs 7413 crore.

It had sought reconsideration of the top court's February 14, 1989 judgement which had fixed a compensation of just Rs 750 crore.

The petition, which claimed earlier compensation amount was based on misconception on the number of deaths, injuries and losses, and disregard to environmental damages, has been pending for quite long for consideration.

It had named US chemical giant Dow Chemical that acquired the UCC in 2001, as the main party. Various victims' groups including Bhopal Gas Peedith Stationery Mahila Karamchari Sangh, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children against Dow Carbide were allowed to be impleaded in the matter.