Bhopal gas leak disaster which is often referred as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy was a disastrous gas leak accident that took place in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and it is considered one of the most horrible industrial catastrophes in the history of the world. The incident took place on December 2nd and 3rd in 1984 at the pesticide manufacturing plat of Union Carbide India Limited.
Bhopal gas tragedy causes:
Toxic Methyl Isocyanate gas and several other chemicals emitted from the plant exposed people residing at the surrounding area to death and fatal injuries. This incident occurred due to negligence towards security measures by company. According to national records, 2,259 people died immediately and approximately 3,787 people died within a few weeks of this incident. However another 8,000 people died of disease caused by the gas leak. A government report revealed that it caused 558,125 injuries of which 3,900 were disabling and 38,478 were temporary.
Who was responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy?
UCIL is a subsidiary to the US based organization Union Carbide Corporation. Criminal cases are pending till date against the company at District Court of Bhopal and District Court of United States, Manhattan. Warren Anderson, who was the CEO of UCC at the time when this disaster took place, is one of the major accused people of this case. He was allowed to escape India at that time. In June, 2010 the Supreme Court of India declared the UCC chairman and seven ex-employees of the plant as guilty for negligence causing death of masses. They were sentenced for two years’ imprisonment and $2000 fine per person. The verdict is seen as a major injustice to the victims and their families. 25 years have passed after the nightmarish incident took place but the relentless suffering is not yet over.
Lack of efforts and will by Govt. to provide relief and justice to victims:
Keeping an eye on the preceding legal activities on the Bhopal gas tragedy case, it was quite evident that the victims were deprived of their lawful right of justice at the very beginning and throughout the process. When the Bhopal gas tragedy occurred, India had no particular punitive law in constitution to deal with the accused members as intensely as they should be. However the government passed an act to present the government as the sole representative of all victims against the UCC in the court of United States. Thus the right of the victims to seek individual justice for this incident was eliminated completely. This was the first and foremost injustice occurred to the much awaited Bhopal gas tragedy victims. The US district gave judgment that UCIL was a completely separate entity operated and managed by Indian citizens and they have no affiliation or connection with UCC.
Though Bhopal district court justice Deo passed an interim judgment notifying UCC to pay 350 crores INR as provisional relief of the victims, the order was not decreed for being interim. Hence as expected UCC refused to pay the amount. In 1989, on 14th February, the Supreme Court of India ordered UCC to pay 470 million USD as the ‘full and final settlement amount’ for all liabilities, claims and rights associated with the fatality of the gas leak case. However neither the heirs of the dead people nor the direct victims were ever notified about the settlement before it occurred. The UCC was given no orders to remove the toxic elements present from the disaster site. Also the Supreme Court never considered the UCC liabilities absolute and unquestionable. Also the case took too long to proceed. Hence UCC had ample time to get relief from the public pressure and also saved lump sum on the amount to be paid as compensation.
Though there is nothing much for the victims in this case, still a writ petition from a fresh trial can be filed under section 304 Pt 2 of IPC. Both the government’s and UCC’s civil liabilities should be questioned once again. The Bhopal gas tragedy is considered one of those nightmares that have no end. The years’ long legal activities directly benefitted the accused party which was setback Bhopal gas tragedy victims.