Updated: March 10, 2017 7:15:05 pm
A bill seeking to consolidate the existing laws on civil matters of admiralty jurisdiction of courts, proceedings on maritime claims and arrest of ships was passed by the Lok Sabha today. The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), 2016 seeks to repeal laws such as the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890. Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Mansukh L Mandaviya said these legislations came into force during the colonial era when India had only three major ports — Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Now there are 12 major ports and 205 minor ports in India but under the existing legislation, matters related to admiralty could be decided only by the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, he said.
He said the bill intends to extend this to the High Courts of Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala, Hyderabad and any other High Court notified by the central government.
“Even the Supreme Court has said that there should be a domestic law to deal with the cases related to Admiralty,” he said.
Referring to the concerns raised by some of the members, Mandaviya said, “once the rules and bylaws are framed under the law, the concerns would be taken care of.”
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Noting that certain clarifications have been sought by the members about Maritime Zone, the minister said six more ports are being set up along with others projects under the government’s ambitious Sagarmala project.
Around eight lakh crore would be spent for the development of ports in the country. He further said if pollution is caused by the ship, then there are provisions in the bill to handle it.
Participating in the debate, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Cong) said archaic and obsolete laws should be repealed. “The maritime and legal fraternity has been demanding a comprehensive legislation,” he said supporting the bill.
Narendra Sawaikar (BJP) said the new law will help in having more clarity on issues related to maritime disputes. Supporting the bill, Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) said with this new law, territorial waters should also be defined using modern technology.
Supporting the bill, B Mahtab (BJD) said it was good that the government was doing away with the colonial era laws on admiralty and consolidating the existing legislations on the important subject.
Narasimham Thota (TDP) said the government was moving in the right direction and the provisions of the proposed legislation would promote maritime activities.
Konda Vishweshwara Reddy (TRS) demanded that a separate High Court be set up for Andhra Pradesh and that the High Court in Hyderabad should not be burdened with the task of resolving maritime disputes.
CPI-M member A Sampath said the government should have called a meeting of the Chief Ministers concerned before coming out with the bill which will have far reaching consequences for the coastal states.
He said it would have been better for the government to have referred the bill to the concerned Standing Committee.
V B Raut (Shiv Sena) said the bill would meet the longstanding demand of country’s fishermen.
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