Admiralty (Jurisdiction & Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016 approved by the Lok Sabha

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The Admiralty (Jurisdiction & Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016 has been approved by the Lok Sabha. The Admiralty Bill seeks to form uniform legal framework by merging the existing laws relating to admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, admiralty jurisdiction of courts, arrest of vessels and other related issues.

The bill also aims to revoke five superseded British statutes (laws) on admiralty jurisdiction relating to civil matters that are 126 to 177 years old and were obstructing efficient governance.

The five superseded British statutes (laws) are:

  1. Admiralty Court Act, 1840
  2. Admiralty Court Act, 1861
  3. Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890
  4. Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891
  5. Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865. Salient

Features of the Bill:

  1. The bill convenes admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in India’s coastal states, thus outspreading their jurisdictions to territorial waters.
  2. The Union Government notification will extend the admiralty jurisdiction upto exclusive economic zone (EEZ), islands or any other maritime zone constituting part of the nation.
  3. The jurisdiction applies to all vessel regardless of the place of residence or domicile of owner.
  4. It is not applicable on naval warships, naval auxiliary, and vessels, which are used for non-commercial purposes.
  5. Vessels under construction and Inland vessels are excluded from the application of the bill.
  6. It also lists the jurisdiction to adjudicate on a set of maritime claims. Under it a vessel can be arrested in some cases to safeguard security against a maritime claim.

It also provides for prioritizing maritime liens and claims while giving protection to operators, owners, charterers, seafarers and crew members at the same time.

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