The Lok Sabha has passed the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016.
The Bill aims to establish uniform legal framework by consolidating the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues.
It also aims to repeal five obsolete British statutes statutes (laws) on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters which are 126 to 177 years old and were hindering efficient governance.
The five laws are Admiralty Court Act, 1840; Admiralty Court Act, 1861; Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890; Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891; and Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865.
Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016
- It confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India, thus extending their jurisdictions upto territorial waters.
- The jurisdiction will be extendable by the Union Government notification upto exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or any other maritime zone or islands constituting part of India.
- It applies to every vessel irrespective of place of domicile or residence of owner. It does not apply to naval auxiliary, warships and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.
- Inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from its application. But it empowers Union Government to make it applicable to these vessels also by a notification.
- It lists the jurisdiction for adjudicating on a set of maritime claims. A vessel can be arrested in certain circumstances in order to ensure security against a maritime claim.
- It also provides for prioritization of maritime claims and maritime liens while providing protection to owners, operators, charterers, crew members and seafarers at the same time.