Status Report: Major Port and Merchant Shipping Legislation in India

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 22, 2016

Photo: Indian Ports Association (IPA)

Photo: Indian Ports Association (IPA)

 With a view to promote the expansion of port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce, the proposed bill aims at decentralizing decision making and to infuse professionalism in governance of ports.  

 
The new Major Ports Authority Bill, 2016 would help to impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability. 
 
The Bill is aimed at reorienting the governance model in central Ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice. This will also help in bringing transparency in operations of Major Ports. This Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 16.12.2016.
 
The Bill is more compact in comparison to the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 as the number of sections has been reduced to 65 from 134 by eliminating overlapping and obsolete Sections.
 
In order to promote ease of doing business to meet new challenges facing merchant shipping sector – to increase tonnage under Indian flag and share of Indian seafarers, safeguard rights and privileges of seafarers, enhance safety and security of vessels and life at sea, to develop Indian coastal shipping and trade and to ensure compliance of India’s obligations under International conventions and to replace old rebundant provisions with contemporaneous provisions, the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 is being introduced in Parliament to replace existing MS Act, 1958. This Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 16.12.2016.
 
The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill , 2016 has been introduced in the Parliament in the winter sessions of the Parliament on 21  November, 2016.   
 
Admiralty jurisdiction relates to powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways. Under the present statutory framework, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts flow from laws enacted in the British era.  
 
The proposed Bill consolidates the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues and repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters. 
 
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