Nuclear liability Bill deferred at last minute

Amid stiff opposition from the political parties, particularly the Left, the Government on Monday decided against introducing in the Lok Sabha the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 that provides for compensation in the event of a nuclear accident.

A key step in the operationalisation of the India-U.S. nuclear deal, the Bill was listed for introduction in the House, but just as the Bill was about to be tabled, Speaker Meira Kumar said she had received a request from the Government that “it did not intend to introduce the Bill today [Monday].”

At least four members from the Opposition had given notice to the Speaker in the morning about their intention to oppose the Bill at the introduction stage as it violated Article 21 of the Constitution and several Supreme Court rulings. Under Rule 72 of the Rule of Procedures of the Lok Sabha, any Government motion that is opposed at the time of introduction has to be put to vote. Since the Government lacked the numbers in the House, it decided to withdraw the Bill instead.

The notice to oppose the Bill had been given by Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha or the Bharatiya Janata Party, Basudeb Acharia of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI.

Protesting strongly against the announcement, working chairman of the National Democratic Alliance L.K. Advani said the Government should tell the House why the Bill was deferred suddenly.

“The Government should tell whether it has a rethink on it or whether they are not introducing because of opposition to the Bill,” he said, pointing out that the proposed legislation was an important part of the day's agenda.

Sushma’s demand

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj also demanded that a motion had to be moved for withdrawal of the Bill from the agenda as the matter was listed in the day's business. “The House does not run by the intention of the Government but by rules of the House,” she said.

The Speaker, however, rejected the demand saying such a motion could not be moved as the Bill had not been introduced.

Responding to the opposition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the Government decision could not be challenged in the House.

Key requirement

Enactment of the liability law is one of the three key requirements because of which the nuclear deal with the U.S., concluded in September 2008, could not be operationalised so far.

The Bill provides for establishment of a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission under which a claims commissioner will be appointed.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 3:12:27 PM |

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