India Debates Specific Law For Maritime Piracy

A bill that seeks to come up with a law to adequately deal with piracy in international waters was reportedly taken up by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill desires enactment of domestic and anti-maritime piracy legislation that’s in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Moving the bill in the House, S Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister, declared that it will reportedly enhance India’s maritime security, including those of trade channels.

Initiating a debate on the bill, Manish Tewari, the Congress MP raised concerns regarding the growing presence of Chinese forces in the Indian Ocean.

The bill that was introduced in the Lower House on 9 December 2019 was shared with the Parliament’s standing committee.

Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill
Image for representation purpose only

The external affairs minister mentioned that the government has tried to incorporate the recommendations of the parliamentary panel within the Bill.

Manish Tewari mentioned that 14 of the 18 recommendations were reportedly accepted, adding that one of the recommendations which were regarding a ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ for extradition and deportation of pirates by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has been noted and is going to be addressed.

He added that the provision related to ‘trial in absentia’ has, however, been dropped.

Per the statement of purpose of the bill, it was decided to bring about domestic anti-piracy legislation for prosecuting people for piracy-specific crimes and promote the safety of India’s maritime trade including the safety of the nation’s vessels and its crew members.

It mentioned that The Gulf of Aden has experienced a spurt in attacks since 2008 by pirates operating from Somalia.

This channel is utilized by nearly 2000 vessels every month for trade between Europe, Asia, and Africa’s East coast.

With an enhanced and improved naval presence in and around the Gulf of Aden, pirates reportedly shifted the place of operations eastward and southward. This resulted in a flurry of piracy incidents toward India’s western coast, mentioned the bill.

The bill is designed to make provisions of the proposed legislation applicable to parts of the sea that are adjacent to and beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India, to make the act of piracy on high seas an offense punishable.

N Reddeppa Gari opined that India can be a ‘Vishwa Guru’ by implementing such a bill.

Noting that piracy has long been in existence, Kalyan Banerjee (AITC) mentioned that coastal police training is insufficient in the country and further suggested that maritime police must be well-trained.

Alok Kumar Suman associated with JD (U) mentioned that this legislation is the result of a commitment made by the country by signing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea back in 1982.

He mentioned that since there is the involvement of ministries, including the Ministry of External Affairs, it is essential that the role of departments and agencies is clearly outlined, which is not currently visible in the bill.

Danish Ali (BSP) referred to the bill as one that was much required and complimented the Indian government for coming up with such legislation.

RSP’s N K Premachandran has a view that the center needs to have thorough legislation regarding crime at sea.

References: Indian Express, Live Mint, ANI

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