M. C. Mehta v. Union of India

M. C. Mehta v. Union of India
Emblem of the Supreme Court of India.svg
CourtSupreme Court of India
Full case nameM.C. Mehta Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.
Decided20 December 1986
Citation(s)1987 SCR (1) 819, AIR 1987 965
Case opinions
MajorityP.N. Bhagwati CJI [1]
Laws applied
Articles 12 and 21 of the Constitution of India

M.C. Mehta v. Union of India originated in the aftermath of oleum gas leak from Shriram Food and Fertilisers Ltd. complex at Delhi. This gas leak occurred soon after the infamous Bhopal gas leak and created a lot of panic in Delhi. One person died in the incident and few were hospitalized. The case lays down the principle of absolute liability and the concept of deep pockets.

Preliminary objection of the defendants

There was only one preliminary objection filed by the counsel for the defendant, and this was that the Court should not proceed to decide these constitutional issues since there was no claim for compensation originally made in the writ petition and these issues could not be said to arise on the writ petition. However, the Court, while rejecting this objection, said that though it is undoubtedly true that the petitioner could have applied for amendment of the writ petition so as to include a claim for compensation but merely because he did not do so, the applications for compensation cannot be thrown out. These applications for compensation are for enforcement of the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution and while dealing with such applications we cannot adopt a hyper-technical approach which would defeat the ends of justice.

Order of the court

The Supreme Court made the following observation:

Since we are not deciding the question as to whether Shriram is an authority within the meaning of Article 12 so as to be subjected to the discipline of the fundamental right under Article 21, we do not think it would be justified in setting up a special machinery for investigation of the claims for compensation made by those who allege that they have been the victims of oleum gas escape. But we would direct that Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board to take up the cases of all those who claim to have suffered on account of oleum gas and to file actions on their behalf in the appropriate court for claiming compensation against Shriram. Such actions claiming compensation may be filed by the Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board within two months from today and the Delhi Administration is directed to provide the necessary funds to the Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board for the purpose of filing and prosecuting such actions.

Thus the High Court was directed to nominate one or more Judges as may be necessary for the purpose of trying such actions so that they may be expeditiously disposed of. Simply because the gas caused death and many people were hospitalised.


  1. ^ "M.C. Mehta And Anr vs Union Of India & Ors on 20 December, 1986". Indian Kanoon. Retrieved 22 June 2012.

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