Recently, Supreme Court has told the Central Government that it cannot decide its curative plea seeking an additional Rs 7,844 crore from the successor firms of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) for giving compensation to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy as a lawsuit.
The concept of curative petition originated from the case of Rupa Ashok Hurra Vs. Ashok Hurra and another case (2002) where the following question arose before the court of law- ‘whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgment/order of the Supreme Court, after the dismissal of a review petition?’.
What is a Curative Petition?
- A curative petition, is the final and last option for the people to acquire justice as mentioned and promised by the Constitution of India.
- A curative petition may be filed after a review plea against the final conviction is dismissed.
- Objective — It is meant to ensure there is no miscarriage of justice, and to prevent abuse of process.
- Criteria for admission —
- The court ruled that a curative petition can be entertained if the petitioner establishes there was a violation of the principles of natural justice, and that he was not heard by the court before passing an order.
- It will also be admitted where a judge failed to disclose facts that raise the apprehension of bias.
- The Supreme Court has held that curative petitions must be rare rather than regular, and be entertained with circumspection.
- A curative petition must be accompanied by certification by a senior advocate, pointing out substantial grounds for entertaining it.
Who hears Curative petitions?
- A curative petition must be first circulated to a bench of the three senior-most judges, and the judges who passed the concerned judgment, if available.
- Only when a majority of the judges conclude that the matter needs hearing should it be listed — as far as possible, before the same Bench.
- A curative petition is usually decided by judges in chamber, unless a specific request for an open-court hearing is allowed.
- It shall be open to the Bench at any stage of consideration of the curative petition to ask a senior counsel to assist it as amicus curiae.
- In the event of the Bench holding at any stage that the petition is without any merit and vexatious, it may impose exemplary costs on the petitioner.
What was ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’?
- Post-midnight on December 3, 1984, Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) leaked from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide (now Dow Chemicals), an MNC, in Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal.
- It is estimated that about 40 tonnes of gas and other chemicals were leaked from the Union Carbide factory.
- Methyl isocyanate is extremely toxic gas and if its concentration in the air touches 21ppm (parts per million), it can cause death within minutes of inhaling the gas.
- After the tragedy, the government of India enacted a Public Liability Insurance Act (1991), making it mandatory for industries to get insurance, the premium for this insurance would contribute to an Environment Relief Fund to provide compensation to victims of a Bhopal-like disaster.