NEW DELHI: US-based multinational Dow Chemicals has declined to share its wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide Corporation's alleged past residuary liability towards compensating 1984 Bhopal tragedy victims and refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India, which is dealing with the Union government's plea for an additional Rs 7,844 crore to the gas victims.
The UCC also took a stand similar to Dow Chemicals in not submitting to the SC's jurisdiction. It narrated the long and winding negotiation process in the 1980s resulting in a settlement for payment of $470 million as full and final settlement towards compensating the victims of the world's biggest industrial disaster. A section of civil society is opposing Dow Chemicals sponsoring London 2012 Olympics because of UCC's role in Bhopal gas tragedy and the alleged inadequate compensation given to victims.
It said the victims have been more than adequately compensated and under the law UCC was not required to pay a penny more. It said if the 1989 settlement was to be reviewed, then it must be set aside first and the money paid by it be refunded. However, it also argued that it would cause grave prejudice to a private party to contest a compensation case 27 years after the tragedy.
It said the government in 1991 failed in its first attempt to "dishonour the settlement". "After this the Union of India has never, ever suggested that it was either not bound by the settlement or that the principle underlying the settlement was flawed for any reason," it said.
The UCC said as late as in 2007, the apex court had rejected attempts for enhancement of compensation on the ground that the matter "stood finally decided by the 1989 judgment, and the gas victims had already received twice over the compensation which they were entitled on account of a huge surplus of funds remaining, after all valid claims had been compensated in full once over".
Dow Chemical's response to the SC was terse. "Dow Chemicals Company has not submitted to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or any other court in India," it said.
Its affidavit said: "Dow Chemical Company is a foreign company incorporated in Delaware, USA, with its principal place of business in Michigan, USA. It has no presence in India that would make it amenable to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Nor did it have any presence in India at the time of the events (1984) underlying the instant curative petition to make it amenable to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court."
In the intervening night of December 2-3 in 1984, a poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide India Ltd's pesticide plant in Bhopal killed more than 15,000 people and maimed a lakh more. Though the Indian government initially demanded $3.3 billion as compensation, it scaled it down to $500 million and ultimately agreed to Supreme Court supervised settlement for receiving $ 470 million in 1989 as full and final compensation from UCC.
But, after the trial court passed lenient sentences against the accused in trial court, a public uproar against the manner in which the world's largest industrial disaster was handled by the government, forced the Centre to move for harsher punishment and demand additional compensation.
Though the apex court has already delivered its verdict in the criminal case, it has sought responses from Dow Chemicals, Union Carbide, Eveready Industries India Ltd and McLeod Russel on the Centre's plea for review of the court's 1989 judgment. It has also asked for an additional Rs 315 crore to repair the damage to environment because of seepage of the deadly chemicals polluting the groundwater around the defunct plant in Bhopal.
Rajivbaba is the guy who willingly let Anderson go free - probably for a fee. This guy has been executed but his widow is still alive and should be made answerable and forced to refund any money received plus damages. There is no reason why a foreign company would submit itself to a court of a foreign country - that too of a country full of corruption and with a weak, mild and spineless government. Let an Indian company poison 3,000 people to death and leave many others affected badly. You will then see what U.S. Government does, which is what Indian Govt. should have done.
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