The Union Cabinet has given its approval to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016.
The proposal to enact to this bill was forwarded by Union Ministry of Shipping to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes.
Admiralty jurisdiction is related to the powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways.
- The Bill consolidates the existing laws relating to admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, admiralty jurisdiction of courts, arrest of vessels and related issues.
- This legislative proposal will also fulfil a long-standing demand of the maritime legal fraternity.
- It also repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters. They are (i) Admiralty Court Act, 1840 (ii) Admiralty Court Act, 1861, (iii) Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890, (iv) Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, and (v) Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865,
Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016
- Confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India, thus extending their 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.
- India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about 95% of its merchandise trade volume.
- However, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts under the present statutory framework flow from laws enacted in the British era.
- The repealing of five archaic admiralty statutes is in line with the Union Government’s commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.