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Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill


Recently, on December 19, 2022, Rajya Sabha passed the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill which the government said would provide an effective legal instrument to combat Maritime Piracy.


Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill enables Indian authorities to take action against piracy in the high seas.
    • The Bill brings into law the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It applies to the sea beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), i.e., beyond 200 nautical miles from India’s coastline.
  • The Bill defines piracy as any illegal act of violence, detention or destruction against a ship, aircraft, person or property, for private purposes, by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft.
  • Piracy also includes inciting and intentionally facilitating such acts of violence, and voluntarily participating in the operation of a pirate ship or aircraft.
  • Committing an act of piracy will be punishable with:
    1. life imprisonment; or
    2. death, if the act of piracy causes or seeks to cause death.
  • 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, and a fine.
  • The central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, may notify Sessions Courts as the Designated Courts under this Bill.
  • The Designated Court will try offences committed by:
    • A person in the custody of the Indian Navy or Coast Guard, regardless of his nationality.
    • A citizen of India, a resident foreign national in India, or a stateless person.

UNCLOS

  • It is an international agreement that establishes the legal framework for marine and maritime activities.
  • It came into existence in 1982.
  • It is also known as Law of the Sea.
  • It divides marine areas into five main zones namely- Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the High Seas.
  • In 1995, India ratified the UNCLOS.