New Delhi: A clause in the Mining Act to make certain top officials of a mine responsible in case of an accident on Thursday divided the Union Cabinet, prompting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to refer the matter to a Group of Ministers.
The measure proposed in the official amendments to the Mines Act, 1952 provides for heavy fines and long term imprisonment of managers of the mines for violation of safety norms.
Sources said members of the Cabinet had divergent views on making the Chief Executive or the Chairman responsible for mishaps as proposed in the Labour Ministry's bill.
Members felt the issue should be left to the board to decide on whom to nominate for liability in case of an accident.
Some members said top officials could not be liable as any probe will itself fix "wilful negligence".
The sources said there was an animated discussion on some provisions in the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959. However, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar was assertive when some ministers wanted to raise doubts over certain issues.
Kumar's assertiveness is significant as he is under attack over vetting of CBI report on coal block allocation scam.