Cabinet approves enactment of new admiralty law

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposal of the Ministry of Shipping to enact a new law consolidating existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues.

Admiralty jurisdiction relates to powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways.

The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 repeals five obsolete British statutes on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters.

“Nineteenth century laws were in force for settling maritime claims with only the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts having the jurisdiction. But now, there are several states where there are several important ports. So the cabinet has approved the Admiralty Bill, repealing the archaic laws,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said here after the Cabinet meeting.

Besides conferring admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of the country, under the new law the jurisdiction is extendable by a Central Government notification up to exclusive economic zone or any other maritime zone of India or islands constituting part of the territory of India.

According to an official release, the new law will be applicable to every vessel irrespective of place of residence or domicile of owner except for warships and naval auxiliary and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.

“India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about 95 per cent of its merchandise trade volume. However, under the present statutory framework, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts flow from laws enacted in the British era.

“The repealing of five admiralty statutes is in line with the Government’s commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance,” said the release.

–IANS

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