New Delhi: As the amendments to the nuclear
liability bill triggered a fresh political storm, the Congress
today said the government was open to take opposition concerns
onboard to build the widest possible consensus on the matter.
Congress spokesman Manish Tewari termed the Bill as "work
in progress" and said the government has always been open to
address the legitimate concerns on the draft legislation.
"It (Bill) is a work in progress and I think if at all
there are any legitimate concerns, the government has always
been open and would be open to taking those concerns onboard
because that is what is the essence of any Parliamentary
democracy," he told reporters here.
However, Tewari sought to make a distinction between
criminal and civil liability and pointed out that the Bill in
question dealt with "strict civil liability".
"Allow me to add a caveat by saying we need to make a
distinction between civil and criminal liability. This Bill
essentially deals with strict civil liability. It does not
preclude any of the options which get triggered off if, god
forbid, an accident does take place, in terms of the criminal
liability aspect of it," Tewari said.
He pointed out that consultations were held with the
leaders of the opposition and their concerns were taken
onboard by the government.
"Consultations were held with the leaders of the
Opposition. Their concerns were taken onboard and the
government, because it is an important Bill, has been
endeavouring to find the widest possible consensus on this
civil liability bill," Tewari said.
A fresh controversy broke out after the government
circulated the amendments to the Civil Liability for Nuclear
Damage Bill, 2010, which were approved by the Union Cabinet.
The amendments appear to dilute the right of recourse of
an operator to seek damages from supplier of nuclear equipment
in the event of an accident.
The Bill is expected to be moved in the Lok Sabha for
consideration and passing on Wednesday.