None Wiser than the Law is a miniseries of in-depth conversations with Justice MN Venkatachaliah, providing an intimate exploration of the legal realm, his life journey, political insights, and the Indian constitution. The title of this podcast draws inspiration from Aristotle, who said to seek to be wiser than the law is the very thing which is by good laws forbidden. Justice Venkatachaliah, a distinguished figure in the realm of jurisprudence, acknowledges this aphorism in one of his landmark judgments, setting the tone for this series of conversations.
Alok Prasanna Kumar, a co-founder of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, spoke to former Chief Justice of India MN Venkatachaliah in August 2023. Their discussion spans an array of topics, encapsulating the Justice’s journey from a young lawyer to a Supreme Court judge, his landmark judgments, and his insights on the ever-evolving legal landscape and society.
In the second episode of the series, Justice MNV and Alok delve into two pivotal judgments that revolve around two of the most harrowing incidents in independent India’s history: the Bhopal Gas disaster in 1984 and the Babri Masjid demolition in 1991. These tragic events spawned a multitude of legal cases, with two of the most significant cases finding their way to the Supreme Court, with Justice Venkatachaliah on the bench. These cases, namely Union Carbide Corporation Ltd v the Union of India (decided in 1991) and Dr Ismail Faruqui v Union of India (decided in 1994), hold paramount importance in the context of these events.
The Supreme Court’s role in facilitating the settlement between the Union of India and Union Carbide has been a subject of extensive debate, as has its contribution to the eventual resolution of the Babri Masjid dispute. In this episode of BIC Talks, we endeavor to shed light on the motivations and considerations that underpinned the court’s decisions, providing insight into why the court took the actions it did in these consequential cases.
- Union Carbide Corporation Etc. vs Union Of India 1992 AIR 248, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/27098883/
- Dr. M Ismail Faruqui & Ors v. Union of India & Ors, (1994) 6 SCC 360 https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609acb7e4b014971140f85d
- SR Bommai v. Union of India, 1994 3 SCC 1 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/60799/
- UoI And Ors. v. M/s. Union Carbide Corporation And Ors, Curative Petition (C) No. 345-347/2010]https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2010/60172/60172_2010_2_1501_42809_Judgement_14-Mar-2023.pdf
- Homi D. Mistry vs Shree Nafisul Hussan on 16 November, (1958) 60 BOMLR 279 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/790712/ (Blitz case)
- Reference Re Secession of Quebec,  2 SCR 217 https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1643/index.do
- M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs vs Mahant Suresh Das & Ors . 2020 1 SCC 1 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/107745042/
- Ameer-Un-Nissa Begum & Ors vs Mahboob Begum & Ors AIR 1955 SC 352 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/494297/
- In re UNION CARBIDE CORPORATION GAS PLANT DISASTER AT BHOPAL, INDIA IN DECEMBER, 1984.634 F. Supp. 842 (1986) https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/634/842/1885973/
Texts of Legislations
- The Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985 https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/1855/1/A1985-21.pdf
- The Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993 https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/2022-09/Ayodhya_Act1993%5B1%5D.pdf
- The Place of Worship Act (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/PlaceWorshipAct1991.pdf