- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
What to study?
- For Prelims: Meaning of curative petition, about methyl iso cyanide(MIC).
- For Mains: The tragedy- how it took place, the fight for fair compensation and what needs to be done?
Context: The Supreme Court will hear in April a curative petition filed by the Centre seeking Rs 7,844 crore additional money from US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), now owned by Dow Chemicals, to provide compensation to victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
More than 3,500 people were killed instantly when poisonous gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of December 2-3, 1984. Thousands more have died over the years. Many more thousands have been maimed or suffer from serious health issues due to their exposure to the gas.
How did it happen?
There was a leakage in the water pipe and as result water entered into methyl iso cyanide(MIC) tank. Also, refrigeration system was not working to cool MIC and prevent chemical reaction. Due to this, exothermic reaction took place releasing large amount of heat and the volume of gas increased and a cloud of gases phosgene, carbon monoxide and MIC started coming out. As it was very spontaneous and rapidly it spread and soon a very dense cloud was formed over the city of Bhopal exposing half a million people.
What is curative petition?
It is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances in court which is normally decided by judges in-chamber. It is only in rare cases that such petitions are given an open-court hearing.
The concept of curative petition was first evolved by the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and Anr. (2002) where the question was whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition.
The Supreme Court in the said case held that in order to prevent abuse of its process and to cure gross miscarriage of justice, it may reconsider its judgements in exercise of its inherent powers. For this purpose, the Court has devised what has been termed as a “curative” petition.
To entertain the curative petitions, the Supreme Court has laid down certain specific conditions:
- The petitioner will have to establish that there was a genuine violation of principles of natural justice and fear of the bias of the judge and judgement that adversely affected him.
- The petition shall state specifically that the grounds mentioned had been taken in the review petition and that it was dismissed by circulation.
- The petition is to be sent to the three senior most judges and judges of the bench who passed the judgement affecting the petition, if available.
- If the majority of the judges on the above bench agree that the matter needs hearing, then it would be sent to the same bench (as far as possible) and the court could impose “exemplary costs” to the petitioner if his plea lacks merit.
Article- 137 of the Constitution subjects to the provisions of the guidelines made under Article 145, by which it is clear that the Supreme Court has the ability to review any judgment declared by it.
Sources: the hindu.