Rajya Sabha passes Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2017
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 Rajya Sabha on 24 July 2017 passed the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2017. The Bill was presented by the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Mansukh L Mandaviya.
The Bill repeals laws such as the Admiralty Court Act, 1861 and the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890.
The bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha in March 2017.
Provisions of the Bill
• 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 Bill seeks to consolidate the laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction, legal proceedings in connection with vessels, their arrest, detention, sale and other related matters.
• While earlier only the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras could take up maritime cases, the Bill extends the power to the High Courts of all the coastal states like Karnataka, Kerala, Hyderabad, Orissa and Gujarat.
• The Bill also provides for protection against wrongful and unjustified arrest and has provision for transfer of cases from one High Court to other High Court.
• The Bill accords highest priority to payment of wages of the seafarers.
• While determining maritime claims under the specified conditions, the courts may settle any outstanding accounts between parties with regard to the vessel.
• Among all claims in an admiralty proceeding, highest priority will be given to maritime claims, followed by mortgages on the vessel, and all other claims.
• The courts may order for the arrest of any vessel within their jurisdiction for providing security against a maritime claim which is the subject of a proceeding.
• It asks the government to appoint a list of assessors qualified and experienced in admiralty and maritime matters. The assessors will assist the judges in determining rates and claims in admiralty proceedings.