Lok Sabha passed Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016
The bill provides for prioritization of maritime claims and maritime liens while providing protection to owners, charterers, operators, crew members and seafarers at the same time.
The Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament, on 10 March 2017 passed the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016.
The bill is aimed at establishing a legal framework to consolidate the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues.
The intended legislation also repeals the following five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters.
i. The Admiralty Court Act, 1840
ii. The Admiralty Court Act, 1861
iii. The Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890
iv. The Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891
v. The provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865
The repealing of five admiralty statutes is in tune with the government's commitment to do away with archaic laws, which are hindering efficient governance.
Highlights of Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016
• The bill confers admiralty jurisdiction on high courts, which are located in coastal States of India, up to territorial waters.
• The jurisdiction is extendable, by a Central Government notification, up to the exclusive economic zone or any other maritime zone of India.
• The provisions of the bill are applicable to every vessel irrespective of place of residence or domicile of the owner.
• Inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from the purview of the bill. However, the bill empowers the Central Government to make it applicable to these vessels also by a notification if necessary.
• It does not apply to warships and naval auxiliary and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.
• The jurisdiction is for adjudicating on a set of maritime claims listed in the bill.
• In order to ensure security against a maritime claim, a vessel can be arrested in certain circumstances.
• The liability in respect of selected maritime claims on a vessel passes on to its new owners by way of maritime liens subject to a stipulated time limit.
• In respect of aspects on which provisions are not laid down in the bill, the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 is applicable.