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N-liability law: panel spells trouble for Centre

delhi Updated: Aug 29, 2012 02:09 IST
Jayanth Jacob

In a move that could spell trouble for the government, a parliamentary panel has asked the government to amend the rules of the nuclear liability law — which could have purportedly helped foreign suppliers.

Both BJP and the Left parties have come together to place stringent liability provisions in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act-2010.

The committee on subordinate legislation, in a report submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, said it is of the “firm view” that Rule 24 has “inserted limitations” that are not “mandated” by the CLND Act-2010. It maintained that Rule 21 in that deal would water down the “stringent liability” provided in the Act.

The committee said, “Rule 24 of the CLND Rules has the effect of diluting the stringent liability provided in Section 17 of the Act by imposing limitations in terms of the amount that can be claimed…. and also the duration under which a supplier can be held liable.”

Rule 24(1) states: “A contract referred to in Clause (a) of Section 17 of the Act shall include a provision for right of recourse for not less than the extent of the operator’s liability under Section 6(2) of the Act, or the value of the contract itself, whichever is less.”

As the maximum liability of the operator is Rs. 1,500 crore as per the Act, Rule 24(1) states the right of recourse from the supplier can, in no case, be more than that amount – whatever be the contract value. The second amendment is to a rule that deals with the operator claiming the liability from the suppliers in a time-bound manner.

The rule now says the provision for right of recourse referred to in sub-rule 24(1) shall be for the duration of the initial licence issued under the Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004 (five years), or the period for which the supplier has undertaken liability for patent or latent defects or sub-standard service under a contract – whichever is longer.