Rules limit amount that can be claimed by a victim & duration for which supplier can be held liable

The subordinate legislation committee of the Lok Sabha has pulled up the Department of Atomic Energy for “diluting” the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act. The committee monitors whether the Rules tabled in Parliament are in tune with the Acts passed by Parliament.

The panel has found that the Rules of the CLND Act were not in tune with the law passed in Parliament and were framed to suit the interests of the foreign suppliers of nuclear plant and equipment.

The panel’s recommendations may scuttle the UPA Government’s plan to expedite nuclear projects in various parts of the country. The panel, without a single dissent note, has asked the Government to amend the Rules. The 15-member panel has representatives from all parties, including the Congress. The panel’s main objection is to Sections (1) and (2) of Rule 24. According to the Act, the maximum liability of the operator is Rs 1,500 crore. Rule 24(1) says that the right of recourse from the supplier in no case can be more than the operator’s maximum liability or whatever be the contract value.

The panel said such Rules have crippled the Act, particularly limiting in terms of the amount that can be claimed by a victim by exercising the right of recourse. The panel added that the Rules also limited the duration for which a supplier can be held liable. The panel also pulled up the Government for “inordinate delay of 13 months” in tabling the Rules. The Rules of an Act are supposed to be tabled within six months of passing of the legislation.

“The Rules have exceeded the brief of Act, particularly in the quantum of compensation and the period of compensation. This will limit the liability of the suppliers,” the panel’s Chairman and CPI (M) Member of Parliament P. Karunakaran, told Business Line.

The panel’s report added that the Rules framed by the executives should be consistent with the substantial provisions of the Act and should not contain any limitations or excesses not contemplated under the Act.

The entire Opposition and a section of the UPA and its supporters had acted together to put stringent liability provisions in the CLND Act in 2010.

(This article was published on August 28, 2012)
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