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Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Internal Security

 

Source: Business-Standards

Context: Lok Sabha passes Anti-maritime Piracy Bill to promote trade security. The bill 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

 

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: 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.
    • E.g. 18 Indians aboard a crude oil carrier were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria last year (2021).

 

Provisions in the Bill:

Definition of Piracy: 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 JurisdictionsThe Bill will apply to the sea beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), that is, beyond 200 nautical miles from India’s coastline.
PunishmentFor committing acts of piracy, the convicts shall be punished with imprisonment for life or death in case the act of piracy itself causes the death or attempts to cause the death of another person.

·      Participating in or assisting acts of piracy will be punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment and a fine.

 

Extraditable offencesThis means that the accused can be transferred to any country for prosecution with which India has signed an extradition treaty.
Designated CourtThe central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, may notify the Sessions Courts to be the Designated Courts under this Bill.
Presumption of guiltThe presumption of guilt will be on the accused if:

(i)            The accused is in possession of arms, explosives and other equipment which were used or intended for use in committing the offence

(ii)          There is evidence of the use of force against the ship’s crew or passengers, and

(iii)               There is evidence of the intended use of bombs and arms against the crew, passengers or cargo of a ship.

 

Issues with the Bill:

  • It is unclear how the overlap of the 14-year term and the life term will be determined since committing an act of piracy will necessarily include participation as well.
  • The issue with the death penalty: Supreme Court of India has advocated for the use of extreme punishment in the “rarest of rare” According to the top court, the death penalty violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

 

 

Insta Links

Anti-maritime Piracy Bill

 

Insta Prelims Links

With reference to the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)

A coastal state has the right to establish

  1. The breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baseline determined in accordance with the convention.
  2. Ships of all states, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.
  3. The Exclusive Economic Zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Answer: D

Explanation:

Statement 1 is correct: Every state has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines.

Statement 2 is correct:  States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.

(Innocent passage: It allows for a vessel to pass through the territorial waters of another state, subject to certain restrictions)

Statement 3 is correct: EEZ: It is an area that shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines. The EEZ is measured from the breadth of the territorial sea. (Don’t get confused about EEZ. It starts from the end of the territorial sea)