INDUSTRIAL DISASTER CASES: STATE’S OBLIGATION TO PROTECT
INTRODUCTION : In the field of torts, under the common law of England, no action could be laid by the dependants or heirs of a person whose death was brought about by the tortuous act of another on the maxim actio personalis moritur cum persona, although a person injured by a similar act could claim damages for the wrong done to him. In England this situation was remedied by the passing of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1846, popularly known as Lord Campell's Act. Soon thereafter the Indian Legislature enacted the Fatal accidents Act, 1855. This Act is fashioned on the lines of the English Act of 1846. Even though the English Act has undergone a substantial change, our law has remained static.
REASONS FOR DISASTERS IN THIRD WORLD: The Bhopal Gas tragedy has raised several important questions regarding the functioning of multinationals in third world countries. After the Second world war colonial rule came to end in several parts of the globe, as a number of natives secured independence from foreign rule. The political domination was over but the newly born nations were beset with various problems on account of lack of finances and development. A number of multi-nationals and transnational corporations offered their services to the under-developed and developing countries to provide finances and technical know-how by setting up their own industries in those countries on their own terms that brought problems with regard to the control over the functioning of the transnational corporations. Multi-national companies in many cases exploited the underdeveloped nations and in some cases they influenced political and economic policies of host countries which subverted the sovereignty of those countries. There has been complaints against the multi-nationals for adopting unfair and corrupt means to advance their interests in the host countries. Since this was a worldwide phenomena the United Nations took up the matter for consideration. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations established a Commission on Transnational Corporations to conduct research on various political, economic and social aspects relating to transnational corporations.
CONCLUSION : The magnitude of the gas leak disaster in which hundreds lost their lives and thousands were maimed,not to speak of the damage to livestock, flora and fauna, business and property, is an eye opener. The nation must learn a lesson from this traumatic experience and evolve safeguards at least for the future. Time is ripe to take a fresh look at the outdated century old legislation which is out of tune with modern concepts. While it may be a matter for scientists and technicians to find solutions to avoid such large scale disasters, the law must provide an effective and speedy remedy to the victims of such torts. in India and the hazards involved therein, pose a mandatory need to constitute a statutory "Industrial Disaster Fund", contributions to which may be made by, the Government, the industries whether they are transnational corporations or domestic undertakings public or private.