NEW DELHI: With an aim to replace the colonial era legislation, which was seen not in sync with the change in times, the Lok Sabha on Friday passed “The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), Bill 2016”. The Bill seeks to extend the jurisdiction to respective High Courts in contrast to the 1890 law, which had mandated the power to Madras, Bombay and Calcutta High Courts.
The Bill passed by the Lok Sabha also aims to consolidate all laws on civil matters of jurisdiction of courts to include High Courts of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Odisha. The Bill would address the anomaly that even while India now has 12 major and 205 minor ports, the cases were being taken up only in Madras, Calcutta and Bombay High Courts. It also consolidates laws on proceedings on maritime claims and arrests of erring ships. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha for discussions and passage by the Union Minister of state for Shipping Mansukh L Mandavia, who added that the legislative proposal would address the concerns of the Supreme Court for a comprehensive domestic law.
The minister also informed the House that the government is in the process to set up six more ports in the country. The government is also implementing the Sagarmala project, which seeks to give last mile connectivity to the ports along with carving out economic zones near the ports.
Members cutting across party lines supported the bill, with the Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee arguing for the use of technology in dealing with disputes arising out of the territorial boundary on the sea. The BJD leader in the House Bhartruhari Mahatab and Congress MP Adhir Choudhary lauded the government for doing away with the obsolete laws with fresh legislations to deal with the new challenges. However, the TRS MP Konda Vishweshwara Reddy sought constitution of a separate High Court for Andhra Pradesh so that the Hyderabad High Court is not burdened with the jurisdiction on maritime disputes.