Explained- Bhopal Gas Tragedy: SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Hike in Victims Compensation

Rozana Spokesman

News, Nation

The Govt filed a Curative Petition in the matter in Year 2010

Supreme Court

NEW-DELHI: The Supreme Court has rejected the curative petition of the central government to increase the compensation of the victims of the Bhopal gas Tragedy. In this petition, an additional compensation of around Rs 7,800 crore was demanded from Union Carbide for the gas victims.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Abhay S. Oka, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JK Maheshwari said that if the case is reopened, suffering of the victims will increase.

The government filed a curative petition in 2010. On which the Supreme Court reserved the decision on 12 January 2023. The Center had sought an additional compensation of Rs 7,400 crore through this petition. In its defense, the government said that the victims cannot be left in confusion.

According to the details received, before dismissing the petition, the court said that Union Carbide Corporation cannot be burdened with further compensation. We are disappointed that this was not noticed earlier.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said the Center has no justification for raising the issue two decades after the accord. He said that the victims have been compensated almost 6 times more than the loss. The central government should use Rs 50 crore rupees with the RBI as per the needs of the victims. He further said that if this case is reopened, it will only benefit Union Carbide, while the suffering of the victims will increase.

The Center had filed a curative petition in 2010 after Union Carbide Corporation paid $470 million in compensation to victims following the gas tragedy, but the victims appealed to the court seeking more compensation. The Center has demanded additional compensation of over Rs 7,000 crores from Dow Chemicals to the victims of the 1984 gas tragedy. 


Chemical, methyl isocyanate (MIC) spilt out from Union Carbide India Ltd’s (UCIL’s) pesticide factory turned the city of Bhopal into a colossal gas chamber on December 2, 1984 night. It was India's first major industrial disaster. At least, 30 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas killed more than 15,000 people and affected over 6,00,000 workers. 

Union Carbide India in Bhopal has three 68,000-litre liquid MIC storage tanks: E610, E611, and E619. As per the reports, Months before the tragedy, MIC production was in progress and was being filled in the tanks. No tank was allowed to be filled more than 50% of its capacity and the tank was pressurized with inert nitrogen gas. The pressurization allowed liquid MIC to be pumped out of each tank. One of the tanks lost the ability to contain nitrogen gas pressure, hence liquid MIC could not be pumped out of it. Each of the tanks could not be filled with more than 30 tonnes of liquid MIC as per the code of conduct but this tank contained 42 tonnes. This failure forced UCIL to stop methyl isocyanate production in Bhopal and the plant was shut for maintenance. 

According to reports, water had entered the malfunctioning tank by December 2, which resulted in runaway chemical reaction. The pressure in the tank increased five times and at midnight, the workers in the MIC area started feeling the effects of MIC gas.