The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2017,
which seeks to confer admiralty jurisdiction on all High courts of the coastal
states of the country was adopted unanimously in the Rajya sabha last week.
The bill which was introduced during the Winter Session of Parliament came
up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on July 24 and was passed unanimously by
The Bill aims to establish a legal framework for consolidation of related
laws to replace the age-old archaic laws with modern Indian legislation and to
confer admiralty jurisdiction on all High Courts of the coastal states of the
country on matters pertaining to affording protection to ship owners,
charterers, operators, crew members and seafarers.
The Bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha in March this year. Minister
of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya, gave a overview of the Bill in the
House, highlighting the need for such a Bill by repealing the five different
Admiralty Acts which are 126 to 177 years old.
The Bill provides for prioritisation of maritime claims and maritime liens
while providing protection to owners, charterers, operators, crew members and
seafarers at the same time.
As per the new Bill, High Courts of all the coastal states shall exercise
admiralty jurisdiction over maritime claims, which include several aspects not
limited to goods imported , but also other claims such as payment of wages of
seamen, loss of life, salvages, mortgage, loss or damage, services and repairs,
insurance, ownership and lien, threat of damage to environment.
The Bill accords highest priority to payment of wages of the seafarers. The
Bill also provides for protection against wrongful and unjustified arrest and
has provision for transfer of cases from one High Court to another High Court.