In a move that could bring fresh troubles for the government, the Left parties have moved amendments to the rules of the nuclear liability bill that deals with limiting of supplier liability.
The foreign suppliers have been maintaining that Indian liability law is not consistent with international norms owing to the stringent supplier liability of provisions. The amendments moved by the CPI(M) pertain to the rule 24 that deals with supplier liability.
The first amendment is for omitting the words "or the value of the contract itself, whichever is less" that aimed at limiting the compensation.
The 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"
The Left parties argue that since the maximum liability of the operator is Rs 1,500 crore as per the Act, Rule 24(1) states that the right of recourse from the supplier in no case can be more than that amount, whatever be the contract value.
That is if the contract value is lower than that, the right of recourse from the supplier will be capped at the contract value. The Left says this rule thus limits operator from claiming larger compensation from the suppliers.
The second amendment is to the rule which makes the operator claiming the liability from the suppliers in a time-bound manner.
The amendment is suggested to sub rule 2, saying the period to claim the liability is extended to 30 years. The rule now says the provision for right of recourse referred to in sub-rule 24(1) shall be for the duration of initial licence issued under the Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004, 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.
The initial licence period is five years. But the Left argues that this "either or" provision is aimed at helping the foreign suppliers, and that the nuclear accidents can happen after the initial licence period which can still be the fault of the suppliers.