“The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The Bill provides for repealing of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 as well as for the repealing of the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838,” a statement said.
The statement further reads: “The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 had become a bulky piece of legislation over the years as a result of various amendments carried out in the Act from time to time. It was amended 17 times between 1966 and 2014 resulting in an increase in the number of sections to more than 560 sections. These provisions have been meticulously shortened to 280 sections in the Bill.”
The provisions of the Bill is said to “simplify the law governing the merchant shipping in India so as to promote case of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services”.
According to the statement, the salient features of the new bill are augmentation of Indian tonnage promotion and development of coastal shipping in India, introduction of welfare measures for seafarers, such as wages to seafarers held in hostage captivity of pirates till their release, compulsory insurance of crew engaged on vessels including fishing, sailing without mechanical means of propulsion and abolition of requirement of signing of articles of agreement by the crew.
The features also include “registration of certain residuary category of vessels not covered under any statute and to make provisions for security-related aspects, incorporation of all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions/Protocols in the Indian laws.”
In addition, the provisions for survey, inspection and certification of vessels, which were scattered in various Parts of the existing Act, are placed together to provide for a simplified regime for convenience of Indian shipping industry, according to the statement.