The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011

Central Government as per the Section 48 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 (38 of 2010), incorporated this Rules and it shall come into force after publication in the Official Gazette.

Rule 2 state definitions for words like Act, Form, insurer, legal representative, claims adjudication authority. Chapter 2 explains about insurance policy and financial security, here shares and bond are also included under financial security. The provisions of this rule will not apply to Central Government nuclear installations.

Under Rule 4 of Chapter 3 reporting of nuclear incident is explained where operator should report about any nuclear incidents to Central Government, insurer, atomic energy regulatory board about it and Atomic energy regulatory Board will review the report.  Adjudication of claims which include application for compensation for nuclear damage and all application will be accompanied with copies of all the respondents, with proof of identity of applicant, passport size photo, medical certificate of injures should be given. The authority can return the application if found defective on scrutiny and such authority should register it in separate register.

Authority can then send notice to hear to the opposite parties. Along with the notice of hearing the opposite parties will get free of cost copy of application for compensation, documents and affidavits filed by the applicant and documents that applicant is relying.  Authority can examine the applicant on oath and it shall be recorded in writing.  Opposite party shall give a written statement, and authority can reject the document that was not given along with written statement if provided later. Authority can ask for particulars of previous nuclear incidents, amount of compensation paid earlier.

Summary by claims adjudication authority, power to direct for medical examination, framing of issues, determining of issues, expenses for attendance of witnesses, method of recording evidence, obtaining of supplementary information and documents, award for compensation, securing interest of claimants and persons associated with adjudication of claims, Appearance of legal practitioner, adjournment of hearing, receipt of compensation are explained in detail.

Right of recourse is explained in Chapter 5 under Rule 24 where definitions for words like Product Liability Period, Supplier are explained. Right of recourse is applicable to not less than extend of operator’s liability or the value of the contract whichever is less and it shall be for initial license issued under Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules 2004.

Authority shall maintain registers of applications for claim for compensation for nuclear damage, notices to be issued to parties, applications for interim award, deposit of payments, diary of day to day proceedings called as A Diary is explained under Rule 25 of the said Rules. Register for applications for compensation on death and disability is also kept by the authority. Custody and preservation of records relating to applications for compensation cases is for 35 years from the date of occurrence of nuclear incident. Claims adjudication authority will have staff same as provided to Additional District Judge.

Condition of service and salary and allowances of officers and other employees of claims adjudication authority is said under Rule 28 where Chairperson of commission is appointed, members of the commission is also appointed, and other officers and employees will form part of the staff. Transfer of officers on dissolution of commission is explained under section 29. Annual report is prepared and be submitted to Central Government at the end of each financial year with full accounts details in it.

The 3 concerns that make Rule 24 deeply problematic are that the amount that can be claimed under right of recourse is to the extent of operator’s liability or whichever is less.  I.e. Even if the damages that are paid by operator to victims of nuclear accident run into crores of rupees and if the value of contract is less than a lakh rupee then the payment of amount will be not more than the value of the contract and it will be very less. Another one is 5 year outer limit that presents an arbitrary limitation of time. The limit of supplier liability owing to recourse is not fair. In this case Kunj Bihari Butail v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (AIR 2000 SC 1069) Court held that absence of specific warrant to delegated legislation “cannot be so exercised as to bring into existence substantive rights or obligations or disabilities not contemplated by the provisions of the Act itself”.

by Sushma Javare.