merchant navy: overhaul of the merchant navy law to remove the prison sentence
The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill 2022, which seeks to amend the Merchant Shipping Act 1958, proposes to remove imprisonment for multiple offenses and also allow Indian and overseas citizens sea non-resident Indians to own Indian vessels, officials said. AND.
This decision is in line with the government’s initiative to clean up the compendium of redundant and old laws or provisions that have lost their relevance over the years, decriminalize offenses and move to monetary penalties.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had identified this cleanup as one of the main areas of intervention, which was also part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll promise. Modi had said that if the party came to power, for every law passed, his government would scrap 10 outdated or archaic laws.
A similar cleanup has already been done in corporate and limited liability company laws.
The draft bill suggests that ships registered under the Coastal Ships Act 1838 must be re-registered under the proposed law.
It also clarifies that any ship that seeks to be recycled in India under the provisions of the Ship Recycling Act 2019 must be temporarily registered for a fixed term.
The ease of doing business
A six-month prison term for falsifying a certificate of employment as a seafarer is removed and replaced with a penalty of ₹1,000. The three-month imprisonment for not immediately notifying the authorities of the dropped cargo, due to abnormal weather conditions or any other reason, is canceled and replaced by a fine of ₹200.
A penalty of ₹100 is withheld for not reporting desertions and absences without leave. This will be charged to the captain of the ship, who must report it within 48 hours of discovering this desertion or absence. This is proposed to be watered down from a month’s imprisonment in the existing law.
Willful disobedience of any order under Section 115 of the Act will not result in imprisonment. This section of the current law allows the center to prohibit the engagement of persons as seafarers on foreign registered vessels in Indian waters.
The center can exercise its power to interdict a seafarer from Indian waters on the grounds of national interest or in the interests of seafarers generally. The proposed bill seeks to impose a fine of ₹1,000 on the captain of a vessel for disobeying the conditions of the centre.