Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): It was the 37th anniversary of the first interim relief of Rs 350 crore ordered by the District and Sessions Court for the Bhopal gas victims on December 17, 1987.
District judge MW Deo had Ordered Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) to pay an interim compensation of Rs 350 crore to the victims.
Advocate Vibhuti Jha had moved the application for the interim relief. Jha was associated with Zehrili Gas Kand Sangharsh Morcha, which led the agitation against an out-of-court settlement and in favour of the interim relief. Encouraged by the judgement, some gas victims declared: "We shall win the final battle too."
Deo had recommended that the interim relief should be about Rs 2 lakh in case of a death, Rs 1 lakh in case of permanent disability and smaller amounts for those with less grave injuries. The money will also be used to provide health care and suitable employment for the gas-affected people.
Deo had observed that the court had to be innovative in an unprecedented situation. In support of his argument, he quoted British judge Lord Denning, who had said: "If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still while the rest of the world goes on and that will be bad for both."
Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) said, “In 1988, UCC filed an appeal challenging the district judge’s order at the Madhya Pradesh High Court. On April 4 1988, the HC passed a judgment reducing the compensation to ?250 crore.”
“Judge MG Deo’s order on interim relief was a path-breaking judicial measure to protect the victims of corporate crime from being shortchanged. Commonly, corporates use dilatory tactic to prolong compensation cases and this compel the claimant victims to settle for low compensation. Judge Deo provided for payment of interim relief, so that claimant victims do not have to wait for final order to receive compensation and they can receive some amount when they need it most,” Dhingra added.