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Parliamentary panel pulls up Govt. over nuclear liability rules

A parliamentary panel has come down heavily on the Union Government for imposing limitations on liability amount as well as the duration of the liability period under the proposed rules under the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act.

Noting that the limitations imposed under Rule 24 of theCLND were not contemplated under the Act, the panel pointed out rules must be consistent with the substantial provisions of legislation.

“Rule 24 of the CLND Rules has the effect of diluting the stringent liability provided in Section 17 of the CLND Act by imposing limitations in terms of the amount, which can be claimed exercising the right of recourse [limiting to the extent of operator’s liability or the value of the contract, whichever is less] and also the duration for which a supplier can be held liable, [which is not] not contemplated under the CLND Act.’’

“The committee hold that the delegated legislation viz. rules made by the Executive should be consistent with the substantial provisions of the Act and should not contain any limitations or excesses, which are not contemplated under the Act,” said the panel.

Urging the government to amend Rule 24 suitably to remove the limitations, the panel also urged that a suitable enabling provision be incorporated either in the Act or the rules to provide that the amount awarded by the Claims Commissioner or the Nuclear Damage Claims Commission was treated as interim relief and disbursed pending the court verdict.

No clarity in the Act

Chaired by CPI (M) leader, P. Karunakaran, the panel on subordinate legislation also noted that there was no clarity in the Act and the rules as to whether the operator could make successive claims from the suppliers in case the maximum amount of recourse available was not exhausted and urged the government to make suitable amendments to provide the necessary clarity.

It noted that though 15 days has been stipulated in the Act to notify a nuclear incident, in the event of such an incident the matter should be handled on a war footing and no time should be lost in “bureaucratic procedures” in notifying it.

The panel pulled up the Department of Atomic Energy for the “inordinate” delay in enforcement of the Act and expressed the hope that it would initiate timely action in framing rules while drafting legislation in future.

“The rules regarding the other terms and conditions of service of the Claims Commissioner and the Chairperson and the members of the commission are stated to be still under the consideration of a departmental committee of the DAE. ”The Committee did not expect such lackadaisical approach in framing of rules by the DAE,” it added.

The panel urged the government to amend the Act to incorporate the definition regarding the supplier. “It is not for the Executive to lay down the contours of a term or interpret it through the rules. This again amounts to Executive exceeding the authority delegated by Parliament.”

It also wanted that the term “representative” used in 6(1) (c) of the CLND Rules be defined properly so that there was no scope or different interpretation.

“The contention of the DAE that the term `representative’ carried same meaning as the term ‘legal representative’ is not convincing as it fails to explain the reasons for not using the term ‘legal representative’ in Rule 6 (1) (c). There should be uniformity in usages of terms in the rules as these have legal implications.”

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