The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that a new bench of judges shall hear the Centre’s plea seeking additional funds from Union Carbide Corporation, currently owned by Dow Chemical Co, to pay compensation to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
The case is likely to be next heard on 11 February.
On Tuesday, Justice S Ravindra Bhat offered to recuse himself from the five-judge bench since he had represented the Centre as a lawyer in the 1989 settlement case. Following which, it was announced that Chief Justice of India S A Bobde will take a call on composition of the bench that will hear the matter.
The Centre had moved the apex court in December 2010, claiming ₹7,844 crore as additional compensation for loss of life and property, and environmental contamination following the tragedy.
In the intervening night of 2-3 December, 1984, poisonous methyl isocyanate gas leaked out of the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal. The highly toxic substance enveloped the surrounding areas, with over 500,000 exposed to the fumes. Considered one of the world's worst industrial disaster, the gas leak maimed generations to come.
As per official report, over 3,000 people had died in the tragedy. The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) gave a compensation of $470 million ( ₹715 crore ). The survivors of the tragedy have been fighting for adequate compensation and adequate medical treatment for ailments caused by the toxic gas.
On June 7, 2010, a Bhopal court had convicted seven executives of Union Carbide India to two years' imprisonment in connection with the incident.
UCC chairman Warren Anderson, the prime accused in the case, was declared an absconder by the Bhopal judicial magistrate court on 1 February, 1992, after he failed to appear for the trial.
Courts in Bhopal had issued non-bailable warrants against Anderson twice -- in 1992 and 2009. Anderson died in September, 2014.