A bill seeking to consolidate existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, arrest of vessels and other issues besides repealing four archaic statutes was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday. Admiralty jurisdiction relates to powers of the high courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways.
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Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh L Mandaviya introduced the bill in the House amid din caused by the opposition over demonetisation. The government had earlier said the legislative proposal will fulfil a long-standing demand of the maritime legal fraternity. The bill confers admiralty jurisdiction on high courts located in coastal states of India and this jurisdiction extends up to territorial waters.
The repealing of four admiralty statutes is in line with the government’s commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.
India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about 95 per cent of its merchandise trade volume, but under the present statutory framework, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts flow from laws enacted in the British era.
The bill covers every vessel irrespective of the place of residence of domicile of owner. However, warships and naval auxiliary or other vessels used for non-commercial purposes are beyond its purview.
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