Plea in SC to make Russian supplier liable for damages

Days after a petition pleaded to stall the commissioning of Koodankulam nuclear plant,another PIL was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday asking for a declaration that the Russian suppliers

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: September 18, 2012 12:57 am

Days after a petition pleaded to stall the commissioning of Koodankulam nuclear plant,another PIL was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday asking for a declaration that the Russian suppliers of the plant will be bound by principles of ‘polluter pays’ and ‘absolute liability’ in case of an accident.

The petition,filed by a group of NGOs,has sought a court’s mandate that victims of accidents should be entitled to sue the Russian firm for damages and any agreement by India to the contrary should not come in the way.

The petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Common Cause alleged that the Centre has exempted the Russian company from all liabilities in case of an accident,which is against the law. It claimed that the Centre has assured the Russian government that “Indian public exchequer and the Indian taxpayers would foot the bill in case of an accident and Russians would be indemnified”.

The PIL,to be argued by advocate Prashant Bhushan,has asked for setting aside Rule 24 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules 2011,declaring it to be as ultra vires of the concerned Act and the Constitution. Rule 24 has the effect of diluting the stringent liability principle by imposing limitations in terms of the amount which can be claimed by exercising right to recourse and duration for which a supplier can be held liable,not contemplated under the CLND Act. The Centre has limited the monetary liability of the Russian company to Rs 1,500 crore.

As interim relief,the petition sought a directive to the Centre for producing before court all agreements signed with USSR/ Russia regarding the plant and a declaration that in the meantime the suppliers will be bound by the Act. The apex court will be taking up the previous petition regarding the plant on Thursday.

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