New Delhi: The Cabinet approved the shipping ministry proposal to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016, a proposed law to empower the high court more in respect to claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways. The Bill has been pending for over 15 years.
The Admiralty Bill 2016 confers admiralty jurisdiction on high courts located in coastal states up to territorial waters and can be further extended to exclusive economic zone or any other maritime zone of India or islands constituting part of the Indian territory. It also consolidates existing laws related to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues.
Shipping ministry in a press statement said, “The law would be applicable on every vessel irrespective of place of residence or domicile of owner. However, warships and naval auxiliary and vessels used for non-commercial purposes will be out of its ambit. Also, inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from its application." However, the central government is empowered under the law to make it applicable to inland vessels by a notification if necessary.
The proposed law will repeal five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters, namely, (a) the Admiralty Court Act, 1840 (b) the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, (c) Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890, (d) Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, and (e) the provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865 applicable to the admiralty jurisdiction of the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts.