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LG Polymers liable under Principle of ‘Strict Liability’ for Vizag gas leak: NGT

  • IASbaba
  • May 13, 2020
  • 0
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LG Polymers liable under Principle of ‘Strict Liability’ for Vizag gas leak: NGT

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Industries; Environment

In News:

  • The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order in the Visakhapatnam gas tragedy found LG Polymers liable under Principle of “strict liability”. 
  • It was sacked in India by the Supreme Court in 1986.
  • However, lawyers say the term “absolute liability” should have been used.

Important value additions:

Strict liability principle

  • Under this principle, a party is not liable and need not pay compensation if a hazardous substance escapes his premises by accident or by an “act of God’” among other circumstances.
  • It was evolved in an 1868 English case which provided companies with several exemptions from assuming liability.

Absolute Liability Principle

  • The Supreme Court, while deciding the Oleum gas leak case of Delhi in 1986, found strict liability inadequate to protect citizens’ rights and replaced it with the ‘absolute liability principle’.
  • Under this principle, a company in a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption.
  • It has to mandatorily pay compensation, whether or not the disaster was caused by its negligence. 
  • It is part of Article 21 (right to life). 

National Green Tribunal 

  • It is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the cases pertaining to environmental issues. 
  • It draws inspiration from the Article 21 – Protection of life and personal liberty – which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals within 6 months of filing. 
  • The NGT has five places of sittings
    • New Delhi and Bhopal (Principal place)
    • Pune
    • Kolkata
    • Chennai
  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases. 

The Visakhapatnam gas leak

  • It was an industrial accident that occurred at the LG Polymers chemical plant on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, on 7 May 2020.
  • Preliminary investigations concluded that the accident was likely the result of improper maintenance of units storing the styrene monomer, improper storage and operation errors. 

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