Lok Sabha Introduced Anti- Maritime Piracy Bill

BY Tiya Chatterji December 10, 2019

In order to provide rigorous punishment including the death penalty or life imprisonment, to those involved in piracy at sea was introduced in Lok Sabha on 9 Dec. The introduction of the bill comes days after some 18 Indians aboard a crude oil carrier were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019 aims at promoting the safety and security of India’s maritime trade, and the safety of its crew members.

A text of the bill available on the Lok Sabha website said the government’s aim in drafting the proposed legislation was to keep up with India’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which concluded in 1982. India had ratified the UNCLOS in 1995. According to the statement of objects, India does not have separate domestic legislation on piracy. The provisions of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to armed robbery and the Admiralty jurisdiction of certain courts have been invoked in the past to prosecute pirates apprehended by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. "But in the absence of any specific law relating to the offense of maritime piracy in India, problems are being faced in ensuring effective prosecution of the pirates," it said.

The provision of death penalty was opposed by opposition's Shashi Tharoor. Displeased with the The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill at the introduction stage he said, the provision of automatic death penalty was against the law. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the bill does not have automatic death penalty provision. He said it is factually incorrect to say that there is an automatic death penalty provision. Section three of the bill says that “whoever commits any act of piracy, shall be punished (i) with imprisonment for life; or (ii) with death, if such person in committing the act of piracy causes death or an attempt thereof."