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No Change in Nuclear Liability Law
Feb 17, 2015

The Indian government made it clear that India’s Nuclear Liability Law will not be amended as it released the understanding reached with the US recently under which foreign suppliers of equipment for the nuclear reactors cannot be sued by the victims in case of a mishap.

  • Dealing with contentious issues including liability, compensation and right of recourse in case of a nuclear mishap, the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said, “There is no proposal to amend the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act or the Rules.”

  • The Foreign suppliers of the reactors cannot be sued for the damages by victims of a nuclear accident but can be held liable by the operator who has the right of recourse that could be operationalised through the contract between the operator and the supplier.

  • Noting that the understanding on the policy hurdles were reached after three rounds of discussions between the Indo-US Nuclear Contact Group, which met last in London before US President Barack Obama arrived in India recently.

  • Based on these discussions, an understanding was reached with the US on the two outstanding issues on civil nuclear cooperation.

  • Country’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages (CLND) Act channels all legal liability for nuclear damage exclusively to the operator, concerns over the broad scope of Section 46, pertaining to possible actions under other laws, have been raised by suppliers, both domestic and foreign. It is now clarified that this section does not provide a basis for bringing claims for compensation for nuclear damage under other Acts.

  • India has given a Memorandum to the US assuring them the same.

  • It is not true that there was a provision for bilateral safeguards given to the US on the tracking of the nuclear material.

  • India’s approach is consistent with its practice and its international legal obligations. 

  • Nuclear material obligated to the US and other civil nuclear cooperation partners will remain under IAEA safeguards (as per India’s agreement with the international agency).

  • There was a right of recourse for an operator against foreign suppliers, Section 17 of CLND provides right of recourse. While it provides a substantive right to the operator, it is not a mandatory but an enabling provision which can be included in the contract between the operator and the supplier for having a risk sharing mechanism.

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