Defence Current Affairs - 2019

Defence Current Affairs of 2018-19 related to India’s Defence, Indian Armed Forces, Defence Production, Defence Acquisition and related matters for SSC, States Civils, UPSC and Other Competitive Examinations.

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Indian Coast Guard can now legally search & seize vessels in EEZ

Union Ministry of Defence has authorized every member of Coast Guard under Coast Guard Act 1978, to visit, board, search and seize any suspicious vessel and arrest people for offences within Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of country. The permission also includes seizing of any artificial island/ any floating or moored object/ any underwater object including any maritime property involved or suspected to be used in the commission of any offence. Therefore, empowering Indian Coast Guard will now enhance coastal security.

Background

Just to board and search suspicious vessels, the Indian Coast Guard (maritime security force of country) have been seeking more powers under The Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976, since 2009.

Before this notification, the maritime security agency did not have the power to board any vessel that passes through India’s EEZ. The Coast Guard then used provisions of Customs Act and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and other relevant acts to board and seize vessels in EEZ. However, it did not have necessary legal backing and many cases would fall flat in court.

There was also a legal loophole using which the vessel companies could sue Coast Guard for detaining ships without any authorisation. Moreover, if Coast Guard officials would seize drugs, detain offenders and hand them over to agencies such as local police, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). The vessels would be handed over to port authorities.

About Indian Coast Guard (ICG)

It is an independent Armed force of India that was formally established by Coast Guard Act, 1978 of Parliament. It protects India’s maritime interests and enforces maritime law, with jurisdiction over territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It operates under the Ministry of Defence and works in close cooperation with Indian Navy, Department of Revenue (Customs), Department of Fisheries, and Central and State police forces.

Exercise Indra: Joint tri service Exercise between India and Russia

The Joint tri service exercise between India and Russia, INDRA 2019 is to be held between December 10-19, 2019 in Pune. The event is planned for 10 days between army, naval and air force forces of both the countries.

Highlights

The exercise is to be held in Pune and Goa simultaneously. Fighter aircrafts, company sized mechanized contingents and ships of respective armies are participating in the exercise. The forces are to be trained in tactical operation end drills like handling and neutralization of Improvised Explosive devices, arms smuggling prevention and anti-piracy measures.

The exercise will be followed by 72-hour validation exercise.

Background

The series of INDRA exercises between India and Russia began in 2003. However, the first joint tri service exercise began in 2017.

The defense relations between India and Russia are historic. However, close ties of Russia with China hurt India. Similarly, India’s 2+2 dialogue, LEMOA and COMCASA agreements with the USA bothers Russia. However, India is trying to balance its relations with both the countries. India went on to buy S-400 missiles from Russia in spite US’s insistence under CAATSA act.