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Case Analysis: M.C.Mehta v/s UOI: Oleum Gas Leak Case

Facts of the case:
On December 4th, 1985, a significant oleum gas leak from one of Shriram's facilities occurred. Both the workers and members of the general public outside were physically impacted by the leaking. In addition, one attorney working in the Tis Hazari Court passed away from oleum gas inhalation. Both the petitioner and the Delhi Bar Association acknowledged the occurrence. Two days later, on December 6, a little amount of oleum gas leaked from a pipe junction.

  • What is the scope of Article 32 of the Constitution?
  • Whether the principle of strict liability should be followed?
  • How to calculate liability and compensation amounts.
  • Whether such harmful substances can be allowed to be kept in the premises?

  • Article 21,Protection of Life and Personal Liberty
  • Article 32, Right to a Remedy
  • Article 12, it defines the term 'State' for the Fundamental Rights
  • Constitution.
J. Bhagwati expressed grave worries for the safety of Delhi residents from hazardous chemical leaks and claimed that eliminating toxic and dangerous factories was not an option because they continue to improve people's quality of life. Therefore, even destructive industries must be formed since they are essential to the growth of the economy and society.

He thought that the only way to lessen the risk or harm to the general public was to take all appropriate measures to put these industries in areas where the general population would be least exposed and the needs for security would be addressed.

The court ruled that the hazardous industries are exempt from all exceptions to the norm outlined in Rylands v. Fletcher. Total accountability was approved by the Court. The leakage was produced by mechanical and human faults, excluding the possibilities of a 3rd party's action or a natural disaster, according to the court, which determined that the concept of absolute liability is relevant in this case.

The act of a third party or a natural calamity was the only exception that applied in this situation. An industry is required to make sure that no one is harmed when engaging in risky operations that could endanger the health and safety of adjacent workers and residents.

The court made the point that new strategies and techniques for upholding basic rights may be established under Article 32 and the Supreme Court in addition to providing direction. As seen As demonstrated by the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, the authority underlying Article 32 in the context of a challenge to fundamental rights is not just confined to preventive actions but also applies to remedial efforts where rights are already being violated.

Furthermore, the court has ruled that it has the authority to grant remedial remedies where a serious infringement of a basic right affects a significant number of individuals or those who are weak and backward.

The industries were divided into three groups depending just on functions that the state should play in each group in accordance with the Industrial Policy Resolution 1956, which was also evaluated by the court. The first was under the sole control of the State.

The second category was made up of the businesses that the government would eventually own. In these areas, the state normally takes the lead in establishing new enterprises, but private corporations would also need to support the state's initiatives by either financing and forming firms independently or by soliciting the state's assistance.

An analysis of the claims made in the Policy Resolutions and the Act shows that the production of chemical products and fertilisers is thought to be a vitally important part of the public sector. Public trade-related activities must ultimately be carried out by the State, but in the interim, they may be supported by and governed by the State, as well as by private businesses. The court stressed the necessity to address this issue in the future even though it ultimately did not decide whether a private corporation was covered by Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.

In order to provide justice for the victims and prevent impeding the nation's economic growth, the decision had to be taken in a certain way. This tragedy became a guiding force for the development of such an effective statute just a few short months before the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 went into effect.

All industries were forced to implement stricter safety regulations as a result of the lawsuit. In spite of its denials,Shriram's gas leak case was significant because it was the first time a company had been held solely responsible for an incident and forced to make amends.

The Supreme Court has taken on a particular judicial function because the justifications for the decision have been established on both a scientific and a legal basis. The choice was made taking into account the significance of industrialization as well as the possibility that accidents may develop as a result of it.

The choice was made while also taking into account the necessity for industrialization, as well as the likelihood and consequences of injuries. The Supreme Court became a champion of the environment and public rights as a result of its generally sound judgement, which took into account all relevant social, economic, and legal factors.

Written By: Shreenidhi Krishnan
, 1st year BALLB Christ University, Pune, Lavasa

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