The Union Cabinet on August 2, 2018 approved a bill provisioning death penalty or life imprisonment to those involved in piracy at sea.
The main objective of the anti-maritime piracy bill is to have a domestic anti-piracy legislation to provide the necessary legal framework within the country for the prosecution of those involved in piracy-related crimes.
• Under the bill’s provisions, the act of committing piracy will be punishable by death or life imprisonment.
• The bill calls for a harsh punishment, as the government feels that the current punishment is not very harsh.
• The proposed law also contains provisions to protect actions taken by officials in good faith and will supplement efforts of the Navy to contain piracy.
• The law is aimed at promoting the safety and security of India's maritime trade including the safety of its crew members.
• The Indian government is bringing the law as a part of its commitment made while signing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. The UNCLOS was ratified by India in 1995.
• The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have been dealing with increasing incidents of piracy in critical sea lanes.
• Piracy off the coast of Somalia in the western Indian Ocean has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the Somali Civil War, around 2000.
• Somali pirates have attacked hundreds of vessels in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean region, though most attacks do not result in a successful hijacking.
• With the increase in illegal fishing off Somalia after the 2013 decline in piracy, fishing vessels became targets in a few incidents in 2015.
• In March 2015, two Iranian vessels and in November one Iranian and a Thai vessel were attacked.
• On March 13, 2017, a tanker - Aris 13, which had been carrying fuel from Djibouti to Mogadishu, was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. This was the first reported hijacking of a large commercial vessel by pirates operating from Somalia since May 2012.
• Eight Sri Lankan crew members were aboard the tanker. After being captured, Aris 13 was taken to Alula and anchored there before its release without ransom was confirmed by security officials on March 16, 2017.
• Following the hijacking of Aris 13, at least half a dozen further instances of attacks have been reported in the Indian Ocean.
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