A file photo shows the pictures of deceased Bhopal gas leak victims in a hospital in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. More than 25 years after a gas leak from the Union Carbide plant on the night of December 2-3, 1984, killed thousands of people, all eight accused in the case were held guilty by a local court on June 7. Image Credit: EPA

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered reopening of the 1984 Bhopal tragedy case and issued notices to all seven accused who are currently out on bail.

A bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia, Justices Altamas Kabir and RV Raveendran sought response from the seven accused including the then Union Carbide India chairman Keshub Mahindra.

The court was hearing the curative petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which was filed following the public outcry after a Bhopal court sentenced all the seven accused to two year imprisonment in June this year.

The hearing took place inside the chamber of Chief Justice Kapadia since curative petitions are not heard in open courts.

The apex court virtually overturned its 14-year-old order following CBI's appeal for reconsideration of the September 13, 1996 judgment which had whittled down the charge to causing death due to rash and negligent act not amounting to murder against the seven accused.

They were tried for criminal negligence leading to them getting away with lighter punishment.

Over 15,000 people perished due to leakage of the lethal gas from Union Carbide's Bhopal plant in December 1984. Approximately half a million people were injured, affected or maimed by what is termed as the world's largest industrial tragedy.

The CBI curative petition is completely silent on the then Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson who was declared an absconder by the Bhopal court.

Anderson had reached Bhopal soon after the tragedy. He was granted bail and allowed to flee the country after he was flown from Bhopal to New Delhi in the Madhya Pradesh chief minister's aircraft.