Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019:
Government has come up with Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019 will bring the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea into domestic law and enable Indian authorities to take action against piracy on the high seas.
- A pirate is a seaman, or robber who attacks, seizes or destroys any ship on the high seas and sometimes even harbours at the shore.
- India currently does not have legislation on matters of piracy on the high seas.
- India ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1995 but was yet to enact it through the bill.
Need for the bill:
- IPC is not valid for foreigners in international waters: Previously, pirates were prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).
- However, India’s sovereignty is delimited by the outer boundary of its territorial waters— 12 nautical miles from the coast.
- Acts of piracy committed by a foreigner outside India’s territorial waters cannot be an offence under the IPC, and those accused in piracy cases have been acquitted due to the lack of jurisdiction.
- Incidence of Piracy: the Gulf of Aden has been one of the deadliest areas in the oceans due to a large number of piracy incidents.
- Due to an increased naval presence in the Gulf of Aden, it has been observed that piracy operations are shifting towards the east and south, which increases their proximity to India’s west coast.
Provisions in the Bill:
- Piracy is defined as an act of violence or detention by the crew or passengers of a private vessel or private aircraft on high seas, directed against another vessel or aircraft and/or people or property on board.
- Extra-territorial Jurisdictions: The Bill will apply to the sea beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), that is, beyond 200 nautical miles from India’s coastline.
- However, it is unclear if it will apply to the EEZ that extends between 12 and 200 nautical miles from the coast of India.