Civil Nuclear Liability Act

  • The Bill fixes no-fault liability on operators and gives them a right of recourse against certain persons. It caps the liability of the operator at Rs 500 crore.  For damage exceeding this amount, and up to 300 million SDR, the central government will be liable.
  • All operators (except the central government) need to take insurance or provide financial security to cover their liability.
  • For facilities owned by the government, the entire liability up to 300 million SDR will be borne by the government.
  • The Bill specifies who can claim compensation and the authorities who will assess and award compensation for nuclear damage.
  • Those not complying with the provisions of the Bill can be penalised.


Key Issues and Analysis

  • The liability cap on the operator (a) may be inadequate to compensate victims in the event of a major nuclear disaster; (b) may block India’s access to an international pool of funds; (c) is low compared to some other countries.
  • The cap on the operator’s liability is not required if all plants are owned by the government. It is not clear if the government intends to allow private operators to operate nuclear power plants.
  • The extent of environmental damage and consequent economic loss will be notified by the government. This might create a conflict of interest in cases where the government is also the party liable to pay compensation.
  • The right of recourse against the supplier provided in the Bill is not compliant with international agreements India may wish to sign.
  • The time-limit of ten years for claiming compensation may be inadequate for those suffering from nuclear damage.
  • Though the Bill allows operators and suppliers to be liable under other laws, it is not clear which other laws will be applicable. Different interpretations by courts may constrict or unduly expand the scope of such a provision.



India has attempted to allay the concerns of suppliers by limiting their liability under the CLND Rules and creating the nuclear insurance pool. However, as aforesaid: (i) the limitation of supplier liability would not apply to situations covered under Section 17(b) and Section 17(c) of the CLNDA Act; (ii) there is no specific prohibition in CLNDA on claims against suppliers under the general law of torts; (iii) nuclear insurance pool covers liability up to only Rs. 1500 crore which may not be an adequate cover especially for tortious liability; and (iv) petitions challenging various provisions of the CLNDA Act and CLND Rules diluting / limiting supplier liability are pending before the Indian courts.

We would require more certainty in the legal regime (which would be possible only after the petitions pending before the Supreme Court are decided), a larger insurance pool and further legislative steps to boost the confidence of the suppliers.


The Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) aims at establishing a minimum national compensation amount and at further increasing the amount of compensation through public funds to be made available by the Contracting Parties should the national amount be insufficient to compensate for the damage caused by a nuclear incident. The Convention is open not only to States that are party to either the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage or the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy (including any amendments to either), but also to other States provided that their national legislation is consistent with uniform rules on civil liability laid down in the Annex to the Convention.

Section 17b-talks about supplier liability,if they provide substandard devices to Operator

Section 46b-talks about absolute liability on Supplier in some cases

Because of these provisions,there were no nuclear technology investment in India so India Ratified CSC and tried to pass amendments lo law which did not take place