New Delhi, March 14, 2023 : Dua Associates led by Senior Solicitor Ms Shiraz Patodia, acting on behalf of The Dow Chemical Company and Union Carbide Corporation won a high profile, high stakes and extremely complex litigation before the Supreme Court of India today. The Court said “that imposing greater liability on Union Carbide Corporation is not warranted and reopening the issue will only open a pandora’s box and will be detrimental to the claimants”. This matter emanated from a toxic industrial disaster that occurred in Bhopal in 1984 and the curative petition filed by the Union of India in 2010, was an attempt to reopen a settlement agreed and acted upon by the parties in 1989, wherein, the Union of India and certain NGOs sought enhanced compensation .
Senior Solicitor Ms Patodia from Dua Associates along with her team members – Partner Ashish Singh, Principal Associates Divya Sharma, Juhi Chawla, and Mayank Singhal have been appearing on behalf of The Dow Chemical Company (TDCC) and contesting the claims made by Union of India on TDCC since the company was not a party to the original settlement. Harish Salve, Senior Advocate was appointed by the Firm to represent Union Carbide in the matter. The matter was contested for over two decades , even when the Union of India did not meet the basic requirements of filing a curative petition.
On14th February, 1989 the apex court recorded an overall settlement of the claims in the suit for 470 million U.S. dollars and the consequential termination of Civil and Criminal proceedings. On 15th February, 1989 the terms of the settlement signed by the Attorney General for the Union of India and the Counsel for Union Carbide Corporation was filed and on the basis of the settlement, the Supreme Court passed an order recording the terms of settlement and issuing directions as to the mode of payment of the sum of 470 million U.S. dollars pursuant to and in terms of the settlement.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court commenced hearing the Centre’s curative petition seeking additional compensation of Rs 7413 crores for Bhopal gas tragedy victims from Union Carbide ( now owned by Dow Chemicals) on Jan 10, 2023. During the course of the hearing, the court raised queries regarding the scope of the curative petition that was filed almost 19 years after the judgement was pronounced in the matter. While dismissing the curative petition , the Court has held that the Union of India has not made any grounds to reopen the settlement, as no case of fraud or misrepresentation has been pleaded. The Court also maintained that the liability is of the Union of India to grant compensation to the victims from the amount of around Rs50 crores currently lying with the Reserve Bank of India.
The Apex Court’s decision in the matter is a landmark one as it covered within its ambit all aspects that relate to the scope and maintainability of a ‘curative petition’ in the current legal regime in India.
Commenting on the judgement, Senior Solicitor Ms Patodia said “this has been a long, eventful battle of over 20 years, and I and my team members are elated that we have been able to get a favourable judgement from the Supreme Court in this matter. We are also deeply appreciative of the role played by Senior Advocates Mr Harish Salve and Mr. Ravindra Shrivastava in appearing on behalf of Union Carbide. This win in a major matter also serves to highlight the robustness of Dua Associates’ litigation team”, she added.
About Dua Associates: Dua Associates is a leading law firm in India with an over thirty-five-year track record of delivering critical legal solutions for its clients including various Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, governments and SMEs. The Firm is widely recognized for the depth of experienced legal talent and the significant experience of its 250 professionals including 75 partners.
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