US Supreme Court to hear Gujarat villagers' appeal on Mundra power plant
22 May 2018
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by Gujarat villagers against Tata Power’s Mundra thermal power plant, which is funded by US-based International Finance Corporation (IFC), over alleged environmental damages.
"Petition granted", the Supreme Court said on Monday. The case would come up for hearing in the next session, beginning October.
The villagers, led by Budha Ismail Jam, along with several other farmers and fishermen, allege that the coal-fired Tata Mundra Power Plant has resulted in widespread environmental damages.
In 2015, the applicants - Indian farmers, fishermen, a trade union of fishworkers, and a local government entity – had sued the IFC in the US District Court for the District of Columbia for funding the project.
Washington DC-based IFC, the financing wing of the World Bank, has provided $450 million in financial assistance to the project.
The Supreme Court said it would decide whether the IFC enjoyed immunity under the 1945 International Organisations Immunity Act.
The petitioners moved the Supreme Court this year after the lower courts dismissed their petitions arguing that the IFC enjoyed immunity, like other foreign countries, under the 1945 International Organizations Immunity Act.
The petitioners lost the case before a district court in 2016 and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2017. Both the courts argued that IFC enjoys immunity.
The villagers, in their appeal, argued that the Tata Mundra Power Plant has failed to comply with international environmental standards, resulting in devastation of local environment.
"International organisations play an ever-increasing role in the economic landscape of this country and the world. Therefore, the question whether they are absolutely immune from any kind of lawsuit - no matter how strictly commercial their activities; no matter how egregious their actions; and no matter the views of the Executive Branch - has great significance," the petitioners argued.