'If Victims Are Entitled, Pay Them': SC In Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Attorney General R Venkataramani, speaking for the Centre, was questioned by a five-judge constitution bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul about how the Center could file a curative petition without first filing the review.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court stated on Wednesday that the Central government was not prohibited from providing aid to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy and that it could not absolve itself of the welfare state principle because its position was that it should "take it from them (successor firms of Union Carbide Corporation)" and that it would pay "as and when taken from them."
Attorney General R Venkataramani, speaking for the Centre, was questioned by a five-judge constitution bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul about how the Center could file a curative petition without first filing the review. The other judges on the bench were Justices Sanjeev Khanna, Abhay S. Oka, Vikram Nath, and J.K. Maheshwari.
The AG was informed by the bench that it was not illegal for the federal government to provide aid to those affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy.
"Their" (Union Carbide Corporation's successor companies') argument is that you are opening the whole thing, it read. You stated that we won't be opening everything up and that we should embrace more responsibility. No issue if they are willing, but they are stating that "No, you choose to engage into a settlement, not under any duress or pressure that is nobody's case, can't be."
The court further stated, "Please give them more if you believe the victims are entitled to it... What should we do in a curative petition is question... You're welcome to pay them.
As a welfare society, the bench remarked to the AG, "If you are so concerned you want to pay more; you should have paid more."
The bench said, "No, absolutely no...," to the AG's assertion that if the Union of India were in default, then all of these concerns would have been resolved. "Regardless of your liability, you as a welfare state adopt a different philosophy," the bench continued.
The Supreme Court is currently examining a curative appeal that the Centre filed in December 2010 asking for increased compensation for the Bhopal gas accident victims. The Centre was criticised by the Supreme Court on Tuesday for pushing for an additional Rs 7,844 crore from Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) successor entities in order to pay compensation to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.