P. M. BRIEFING : Judge Might Retract Bhopal Ruling

From Times wire service s

A judge who ordered Union Carbide Corp. to pay $470 million for the Bhopal gas disaster threatened today to quit the five-judge panel and withdraw his judgment because of criticism of the settlement.

"I am not saying that we are infallible, but you cannot carry on the mental torture on us," Judge E. S. Venkataramiah said as the panel assembled to hear a petition challenging the Indian government's authority to reach a settlement with the Danbury, Conn.-based company.

He described an outpouring of criticism by newspapers and opposition politicians, who want a bigger settlement and prosecution of Union Carbide officials, as "a campaign of vilification."

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