New Delhi: The Supreme Court
Thursday said it would hear a petition of the central government
seeking enhancement of compensation for the victims of the 1984
Bhopal gas tragedy to the tune of Rs.7,500 crore.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Altmas
Kabir, Justice R.V. Raveendran, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and
Justice Aftab Alam passed the order after considering the
government's petition during the in-chamber hearing.
The court in its brief order said: "Place these petitions seeking
enhancement in court along with curative petition in CBI (Central
Bureau of Investigation) vs Keshub Mahindra on Feb 28 at 2 p.m."
The gas tragedy killed 3,000 people instantly and affected over
15,000 due to a leak of methyl isocyanate gas from the Union
Carbide's pesticide plant in the heart of Bhopal.
On Dec 3 last year, the 26th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas
tragedy, the central government moved a petition in the court
seeking revised compensation for the victims and the consequent
The government sought the enhancement of compensation, determined
by the apex court in 1989, on the grounds that the settlement
arrived in 1989 was based on the "assumptions of truth unrelated
The petition said that the revised amount sought in 2010 was on
account of devaluation of rupee, interest rate and purchasing
power parity and inflation index.
At the time of calculating earlier compensation, the number of
dead was taken to be 3,000, which subsequently turned out to be
5,295. Similarly the victims with minor injuries were taken as
50,000 which eventually turned out to be 527,895.
The total revised amount being sought in the petition is $1,241.38
million as per Aug 22, 2010 rates.
The basis for calculating this amount was that the compensation
awarded in February 1989 was Rs.675.96 crore. When converted into
dollars at the then prevailing rates it would have been equal to
The petition contended that if the amount had remained invested in
dollars on yearly basis and based on London interbank offered rate
it would have become $1,241.38 million by Aug 22, 2010.
The amount of compensation to be paid in 2010 varies based on the
parameters of calculating it. The compensation awarded in February
1989 is being claimed in 2010, the petition said.
The petition placed various options before the apex court for
calculating the enhanced compensation. That included the levying
of interest, calculating by taking inflation index in
consideration and basing calculation on dollar value as prevailing
The petition also sought the recovery of Rs.1,743.15 crore which
the central government and the Madhya Pradesh government spent in
the aftermath of the tragedy for the relief and rehabilitation of
The petition said that this was the tax payer's money, which could
not be spent on the wrong committed by the Union Carbide.
Another component of the revised compensations was Rs.315.7 crore
which, the petition said, was spent on the handling of the toxic
waste left behind by the gas leak.