Thursday, 26 Nov, 9.52 pm SME Times

Ministry of Ports begins public consultation on draft Merchant Shipping Bill

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has issued a draft of the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020 for public consultation. The Bill aims to repeal and replace the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 and the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838 with a up-to-date legislation incorporating the best practices adopted by other advanced countries like the US, Japan, UK, Singapore and Australia. A government statement said that the draft Bill has adopted all up-to-date IMO (International Maritime Organisation) conventions/protocols, to which India is a party. Provisions have also been incorporated to ensure the safety and security of vessels, safety of life at sea, prevent marine pollution, provide for maritime liabilities and compensations, and ensure comprehensive adoption of India's obligations under international conventions.

The draft Bill promotes ease of doing business by doing away with requirement of general trading licence for Indian vessels.

It has also embraced digital technology by enabling electronic means of registration, and grants statutory recognition to electronic agreements, records, and logbooks, in addition to electronic licences, certificates and payments.

The Bill also seeks to increase India's tonnage by widening the eligibility criteria for ownership of vessels and providing for the registration of bareboat charter-cum-demise, thereby increasing opportunities for international trade.

One of the main aims of the Bill is to introduce for the first time statutory framework for regulating maritime emergency response against maritime incidents. The provisions seek to provide for time effective implementation of response mechanisms in order to ensure that the same is prevented from becoming a wreck or other catastrophic event.

It also has strengthened provisions for repatriation of abandoned seafarers and also strengthened adjudication and predictability of claims. In order to strengthen the investigation and adjudication of claims arising out of collision of vessels, the Bill provides that assessors may be tasked by the High Courts to present their findings on the degrees of fault of each vessel.

The Bill also incorporates powers of the Director-General to take action against vessels that are unsafe, and pose a threat to safety of life at sea and environment, and includes a procedure for appeal from detention orders.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by Dailyhunt. Publisher: SME Times English