Bhopal Gas Tragedy: SC’s Dismissal of Curative Petition is ‘Assault on Legal Rights of Survivors’

Date:

Pervez Bari | Clarion India

BHOPAL – Five organisations of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal on Wednesday jointly condemned the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the curative petition.

Likening Tuesday’s decision of the Supreme Court with the apex court’s February 1989 decision on the settlement of the case, the organisations called it a “judicial assault on the constitutional and legal rights of the Bhopal survivors”. The organisations resolved to continue their struggle for justice till all survivors are adequately compensated.

Rashida Bi, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh, said: “The Bhopal victims were denied their day in court because of the pro-corporate bias of the Supreme Court bench. The counsel for Union Carbide that continues to abscond from charges of culpable homicide was given ample time to speak by the bench, while the counsel for the survivors’ organisations was only heard for just 45 minutes. Apparently, the bench believes in a ‘fugitive entitlement doctrine.”

File photo of an activist holding a placard during a protest against the delay in justice for Bhopal gas tragedy victims. — AFP

“The Supreme Court judges dismissed the case for additional compensation due to their insistence that the case must attain finality in line with the wishes of the corporate counsel,” said Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha.

He asked: “How can you impose finality when the corporation’s crimes continue to victimise people? The gas-affected people continue to die untimely deaths from cancers and other exposure induced chronic diseases. When the criminal remains absconding, and the suffering of its victims, including that of their progeny, continues, how can a Supreme Court bench draw the curtain over the injustice in Bhopal?

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action condemned the Supreme Court for deliberately ignoring arguments and facts presented by the survivors’ organisations.

“We presented official figures of injuries and deaths analysed by an international expert on epidemiology that proved the 1989 settlement perpetrated a gross miscarriage of justice but the Supreme Court bench chose to blind itself to it. The bench said that only an argument of fraud could re-open that settlement, entirely ignoring our counsel’s detailed submissions on the fraud committed by the Union Carbide to procure the settlement of 1989,” Dhingra pointed out.

Two men carry children blinded by the chemical pesticide leak to a hospital. With almost 50,000 injured as well as generations being born with physical and mental deformities, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the world’s worst industrial disaster. — File Photo/AP

“We refuse to accept the injustice delivered by the Supreme Court on Tuesday”, said Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha. “We fought and won against the injustice of the settlement of 1989 and we will resume our fight again. We will fight in the court and we will fight on the streets till justice is done in the world’s worst corporate massacre”, he said.

Nousheen Khan of the Children Against Dow Carbide said: “Tuesday’s decision exposes the perversity of the Supreme Court bench that took the government to task for ignoring the health impact on the next generation. But it failed to hold the corporation accountable for the crime against the unborn.”

A dead mother and child lying on the streets. The situation was so bad that almost every person had been affected and each one was responsible for his own safety. — AP file photo

It may be recalled that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas which killed 3,000 people instantly. Over nearly four decades, more than 25,000 have kissed death and the sad saga still continues. About half a million people are suffering from side-effects of the poisonous gas and several thousands have been maimed for life.

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