Parliament Passes Maritime Anti-Piracy Bill
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill that provides for the prosecution of persons for piracy-related crimes and promotes the safety and security of India’s maritime trade including the safety of the country’s vessels and crew members.
The Maritime Anti-Piracy Bill, 2022 was passed with a voice vote after a discussion in which members posed their queries and gave suggestions. Lok Sabha passed the bill on Monday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who moved the Bill for passage in the upper House, said that the act of piracy on high seas will be an offence punishable with imprisonment for life or death.
“If there is an extradition issue. We will not impose the death penalty,” he said.
The Minister said that the detention of fishermen from Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and other states often by Sri Lanka and the detention of those from Gujarat by Pakistan remains a big concern for us”.
Under the provisions of the bill, participating, organising, aiding, supporting, attempting to commit, and directing others to participate in an act of piracy will be punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment.
India does not have separate domestic legislation on piracy and provisions of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to armed robbery were being invoked to prosecute pirates apprehended by Indian Coast guards.
In the absence of any specific law relating to the offence of maritime piracy in India, problems were being faced in ensuring effective prosecution of the pirates.
The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in December 2019.
The proposed anti-piracy legislation will apply to all parts of the sea adjacent to and 200 nautical miles beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone of India. Special Courts will be designated and established for speedy trial of these cases. Offences under this Act will be deemed extraditable.
As per the Bill, piracy means any illegal act of violence, detention or depredation against a ship, aircraft, person or property, for private purposes, by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft. (ANI)
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