Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: M. Venkata Ramana, J. while pronouncing the grant of bail to certain persons from the management of LG Polymer in the Styrene Gas Leakage Matter, quoted the following:

‘Life’s Good’. It is always so, on this beautiful planet, the Earth.

In Visakhapatnam, an unfortunate incident occurred due to styrene vapour release in an uncontrolled manner affecting flora, fauna including water bodies, etc.

A complaint was filed with regard to the incident for offences under Sections 278, 284, 285, 337, 338 and 304-II, Penal Code, 1860.

Petitioner were arrested in connection with this incident.

Point for determination in the present matter is, whether the petitioners are entitled for bail?

Question of knowledge either with reference to last clause in Section 299 IPC and clause fourthly in Section 300 IPC is largely based on probable consequences of an alleged criminal act attributed against the accused and do not connote any intention at all.

Bench also observed that except Section 304-II IPC, other offences complained of against all these accused are bailable.

Whether the said offences and Section 304-II IPC could go together or not is again a question not open for consideration at this stage in these petitions. All these questions relate to realm of trial.

Incident stated had an enormous impact and was of great magnitude. Yet, there are circumstances, in favour of the accused to to dilute the gravity of the instance in relation to their role if, as a whole responsible.

Externally forced events like shut down of the plant due to lockdown and the effort of the company to air its apprehension of lurking danger due to bulk storage of Styrene monomer in its tanks to the authorities concerned in vain.

Factors sated positively stand in favour of the accused.

Hence, if the request of the accused of bail is considered, Court stated that it is unlikely that the investigation would suffer or get stalled.

With certain conditions, the bail application was accepted.[PPC Mohan Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine AP 550, decided on 04-08-2020]

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Vizag Gas Leak Incident| A.P. HC | LG Polymers to be seized and passports of directors shall not be released without leave of Court

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Vizag Gas Leak| SC allows 30 LG Polymers personnel to access the plant till AP HC considers the matter

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[Vizag Gas Leak] AP HC | Employees of LG Chemicals parent company permitted to leave the country as they do not hold liability for “styrene gas leak” incident

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the plea challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court order dated 22.05.2020 which directed the complete seizure of the  LG Polymers Plant in Vishakhapatnam in the case relating to the hazardous gas leak which claimed 12 lives and affected hundreds of others on May 7, 2020, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran, JJ allowed 30 LG Polymers personnel to access to the plant round the clock to maintain adequate safety measures as an interim measure till the matter is considered by the High Court.

“we permit the petitioner to give a list of 30 personnel as discussed hereinabove. Upon such names being given to the District Collector, those persons shall be afforded access to the plant round the clock to maintain adequate safety measures.”

The said direction of the Court came after Senior Advocate Mukul Rihatgi submitted that a complete seizure or sealing of plant/ premises will have tremendous adverse consequences and impact.

“the temperature of the plant cannot be allowed to go beyond 25° C; and if by any chance because of lack of adequate attention or safety measures, if the temperature goes beyond 25° C situation can have some ill effects.”

Here’s what LG Polymers submitted before the Supreme Court:

  • atleast 28 technical personnel and two administrative officials/incharge must be given emergency access to the plant/premises at any given point of time so that adequate safety measures are undertaken round the clock.
  • at the intermediate stages of manufacture, the Polymers that the petitioner manufactures can have toxic effects and therefore adequate safety measures have to be undertaken every time.
  • the premises in question also house the administrative and Law Offices of the Company and in case the entirety of the premises are seized/sealed, the operation of the company will stand seriously prejudiced.
  • the products lying for clearance be allowed to be cleared so that there are no adverse financial effects on the Company.
  • the inspections to be carried pursuant to the directions issued by the High Court must be in the presence of officials of the Company so that adequate assistance as well as complete knowledge about the processes undertaken by the petitioner could also be highlighted sufficiently.

Finding force in the abovementioned submissions and considering the fact that the compliance report was directed to be filed by 26.5.2020 and the matters may be taken up on 27.5.2020 & 28.5.2020, the Court gave liberty to the petitioner to place all these issues and aspects for consideration by the High Court.

Passing interim order in the matter, the Court clarified,

“This ad interim direction will continue till the High Court considers the matter.”

[LG Polymers India Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Andhra Pradesh, SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) Diary No(s). 11636/2020, order dated 26.05.2020]

Also read:

Vizag Gas Leak Incident| A.P. HC | LG Polymers to be seized and passports of directors shall not be released without leave of Court

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, CJ and Lalitha Kanneganti, J., addressed certain PILs that were filed in regard to the LG Polymers poisonous gas leakage incident.

Petition was filed seeking direction or any appropriate writ calling for records relating to leakage of poisonous gas from LG Polymers factory at Visakhapatnam and further directing respondents to save lives of people in around the factory by providing necessary medical facilities.

Another petition was filed wherein direction was sought as respondents were not providing financial and medical facilities to people affected by incident also directing LG Polymers company management to give compensation fo Rs 2 crores as compensation to the deceased families and 50 lakhs to every injured person, 50,000 to deceased cattle as well as 5,00,000 to damaged standing crop of farmers.

Adding to the above, company be seized and directed to shift far off from Visakhapatnam.

Bench held that as asked by the Court in its 7th May Order with regard to the said incident, action report was to be filed by 20th May, 2020. State and centre filed their affidavits along with material to show the efforts made by them.

Court observed that the action reports were silent on the following issues:

  • LG Polymers has been operating without a valid Environmental Clearance from the MoEFCC.
  • Inhibitor concentration in the storage tank was not checked. Refrigeration system was not working properly.
  • Radius of the vulnerable zone extended upto 6.3km from the source.
  • There are several hospitals, education institutions, places of worship, railway stations and airport within the vulnerable zone.
  • Bystander population should have been informed of the risk they were at and trained in evacuation procedures in the vent of an accident as per Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989. But, this has not been done.
  • Siren/Alarm system did not function.

Advocate General and Counsel on behalf of Assistant Solicitor General prayed for time to apprise the Court on the above-stated queries. Further reply was also asked for the following:

  • What is the net worth of LG Polymers as per the provisions of the Companies Act, not as per the book value.
  • After registration of crime, an appointment of investigation/inspection team and also when the Magisterial enquiry was required, why, without appointment of the said panel or permission of Court, Styrene Monomer has been permitted to be transported to South Korea and who is the person responsible for the same?

Hence, Court passed the following interim directions:

  • Premises to be completely seized and no one to be allowed including the Directors of the Company.
  • Committee, if any, appointed wants to inspect premises, they are at liberty but shall put a not on Register maintained at the gate of the Company regarding the said inspection and a note while returning regarding what act done in premises.
  • None of the assets movable or immovable, fixture, machinery and contents shall be allowed to be shifted without the leave of the Court.
  • As stated before, Directors have surrendered their passport and they are in India, however, Court directs that their passports shall not be released without the leave of the Court and they be not allowed to go outside India without leave.
  • It be also apprised whether, during the lockdown period, any permissions were obtained to restart the operations, if not, action taken report be filed.
  • Grievance regarding appointment of various committees by NGT, Centre and State, Centre and State are at liberty to apprise as to which Committee shall fulfil the purpose.

Respondents to file compliance report by 26th May, 2020. Matters to be listed on 28th may, 2020. [Taken UP, Poisonous gas leakage in Visakhapatnam v. State of A.P.; WP(PIL) No. 112 of 2020, decided on 22-05-2020]