Personnel, Grievances and Pensions

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill seeks to dissolve the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and replace it with the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA). 
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  • The NSRA shall regulate nuclear safety and activities related to nuclear material and facilities.  The government can exempt facilities from NSRA’s jurisdiction if they relate to national defence and security.
  • The Bill also establishes the Council of Nuclear Safety to review policies on nuclear safety.  The Council shall include the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. 
  • The Chairperson of the NSRA will be on the search committee for the remaining members.  A member of the NSRA may be removed by the central government after providing him an opportunity to be heard.
  • An order of the NSRA can be appealed before the Appellate Authority, which would be set up by the Council ‘as and when required’.
  • The Bill penalises all violations with imprisonment for up to five years.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Council includes the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, who also heads the department that controls nuclear plants.  This may lead to a conflict of interest.
  • The Chairperson of the NSRA will be on the search committee for other members.  This may affect the independence of other members.
  • The Bill allows the central government to regulate certain nuclear facilities on its own.  Such facilities would not be under any other independent regulatory authority.
  • The Bill permits the central government to establish other regulatory bodies for regulating exempted facilities or activities.  The extent of Parliamentary oversight over these bodies is not clear.
  • Members of the NSRA may be removed without a judicial inquiry.  The process differs from the procedure under other legislations.
  • The NSRA’s orders can be appealed before an Appellate Authority, which is not a standing body.  It is not clear how an appeal may be filed if the Appellate Authority is not constituted.
  • The penalty for all offences under the Bill is the same.  It is unclear whether the gravity of these offences is the same in all cases.