LG Polymer, Supreme Court
LG Polymer, Supreme Court
Litigation News

Vizag Gas Leak: Supreme Court restrains disbursal of 50 crore compensation amount ordered by NGT for 10 days

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today restrained the disbursal of the compensation amount of Rs 50 crore deposited by LG Polymers as directed by the National Green Tribunal, for a period of ten days.

The Supreme Court also said that the Andhra Pradesh High Court shall dispose of the pending applications before it in relation to the Vizag Gas leak case expeditiously.

The Bench of Justices UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran ordered a bar on the disbursal of the Rs 50 crore amount deposited by the South Korean company, which was directed to do so by the NGT on June 1.

The Bench today heard LG Polymers' challenge to the orders passed by the NGT and the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Staying the NGT's order for a period of ten days, the Court said,

"Though there is no substantive challenge insofar as the order dated 01.06.2020 is concerned, considering the fact that the initial order is presently under challenge, we pass ad-interim direction staying the operation of the directions issued by the National Green Tribunal in para 40 of its order dated 01.06.2020 for next ten days."

Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing LG Polymers, told the Court today that the Directors of the company were directed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court to deposit their passports before the Court. This order of the High Court is without jurisdiction, Rohatgi contended.

On the last date of hearing, the Supreme Court had allowed access to 30 of the company's personnel into the plant for maintenance and other purposes.

Despite this order, the District Magistrate did not allow the same, Rohatgi argued. When the Bench inquired if a nod from the authorities was sought for the removal of the hazardous gas from the plant, Rohatgi replied,

"My plant which is a highly specialized one has been sealed. This order of sealing without an expert opinion is wrong."

Rohatgi elaborated further that despite the large number of committees formed under different statutes to oversee the case, the High Court is yet to take up the matter for hearing. He added that the action of the DM to prevent the entry of the two lawyers, as part of the personnel allowed entry into the plant, was improper.

"...the Collector had no reason to prevent the entry of two personnel just because they were lawyers, even though the Supreme Court had directed the entry of 30 personnel into the plant vide its last order."
Mukul Rohatgi

Rohatgi clarified that the company was before the Supreme Court to challenge the order by which the plant was directed to be sealed, and the order directing passports of the company's Directors to be deposited. Rohatgi added that the sealing of the plant is "unconstitutional".

The Court, however, observed that a submission of this nature cannot be entertained considering that the gas leak that took place in May this year was indeed the fault of the manufacturer.

As on date, there are three applications pending before the Andhra Pradesh High Court pertaining to access to the plant, seeking appropriate directions so that the finished products lying in the plant can be allowed to be cleared; and seeking appropriate directions that the original record lying in sealed condition be de-sealed.

The Supreme Court has asked the High Court to hear and dispose of these pending applicationsexpeditiously and preferably by the end of next week.

We request the High Court to dispose of the matters as early as possible and preferably by the end of the next week.
Supreme Court

The Court has also stated that while the matters pertaining to this case were listed before a different Bench during the Summer vacation, they be now placed before the Bench presided over by the Chief Justice or be placed before another appropriate Bench to ensure matters are disposed of soon. The Coirt said,

"Now that the High Court has resumed its functioning after summer vacation, we request the Chief Justice of the High Court to either list the matters before the Bench presided over by the Chief Justice or to assign them to any other appropriate Bench so that all the pending applications can be disposed of at an early date."

In the meantime, it has directed for the disbursal of the compensation amount to be restrained for a period of ten days.

LG Polymers was represented by Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas Managing Partner Pallavi Shroff and Partner Anuj Berry along with Rohatgi.

Read Order:

LG Polymers vs APPCB (Vizag Gas Leak).pdf
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