The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019 is aimed at promoting the safety and security of India’s maritime trade. Comment.
The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Ministry of External Affairs recently. It provides for the prevention of maritime piracy and prosecution of persons related with such crimes.
Key features of the Bill include:
- The bill is applicable to all parts of the sea adjacent and beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone of India. It refers to the area of the sea for which India has exclusive economic rights.
- It defines piracy as any act of violence, detention, or destruction committed against a ship, aircraft, a person or property, for private purposes, by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft. Inciting or intentionally facilitating such acts would also qualify as piracy.
- Piracy also includes voluntary participation in the operations of a pirate ship which is intended to be used for committing any act of piracy, or to commit an act of piracy, and is still under the control of the persons guilty of such act.
- An act of piracy will be punishable with imprisonment for life; or death, if the act of piracy includes attempted murder, or causes death. An attempt to commit, abet, or procure for an act of piracy will be punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment, and a fine.
- Offences will be extraditable which means that the accused can be transferred to any country for prosecution with which India has signed an extradition treaty.
- A ship or aircraft under the control of pirates may be seized, persons aboard may be arrested, and the property on board may also be seized. Seizure may be carried out by: a warship or military aircraft of the Indian Navy or India Coast Guard, or ships on government service.
- The central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, can notify the Sessions Courts to be the Designated Courts under this Bill.
- The Designated Court can try offences committed by a person in the custody of the Indian Navy or Coast Guard, regardless of his nationality. The Court may try a person even if the person is not physically present in the Court.
- The Court will not have jurisdiction over offences committed on a foreign ship, unless an intervention is requested by the country of origin of the ship, the ship owner, or any other person on the ship.