Maritime law also known as Admirality law has deeply rooted in India for trade and development which holistically boosts the economy of our country. Maritime law simply means the laws governing through sea roots. The nature of Maritime Law is private in nature. Its public law counterpart is known as the Law of the Sea. this area of law is very lesser know to all perhaps the general public matters less about what happening on the coastal areas and sea, under what laws the trade disputes are happening in sea.
In this article I am going to give an insight about the general law governing the disputes in sea and examine up to what level it is successful and the relevance of laws across the globe.
India is surrounded by water on three sides and has given great importance to maritime affairs since millennia. It has continued to receive and send ships on and from its shores since thousands of years. However, the legal regulation of sea-affairs has only taken shape in the last few hundred years; with domestic laws getting fixed more recently. It was known in a range of historical records that in ancient time, there were several traders and merchants coming to India and going from India as well. Thus, there existed a variety of regulations, rules, and set of laws in this field from time immemorial. Subsequent to Independence, the government looked into the issue critically and enacted a mixture of statutes and laws to maintain a strong, efficient and continuously developing trade practices via sea.
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 was enacted for assured rules as well as development in this field. Spaced out from this Act, we had diverse laws put forward by the British Government such as the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838, Inland Steam Vessels Act, 1917, as well as a range of other laws and regulations. However, all such laws were not in accordance with the prevailing Indian arrangement of Coastal trade. Thus, the Government implemented various fresh rules and regulations for the improvement of the prevailing set of practices of the coastal trade. Post-independence, the jurisdiction of Admiralty Courts in India were as well limited to the claims as enumerated in the aforementioned British legislations, however, in 1993, the SCI in M. V. Elisabeth firmly opined that High Courts in India are greater Courts of records with limitless jurisdiction with inbuilt and plenary powers to make a decision on their own jurisdiction to restore grievances according to what is professed to be principles of justice, equity and good conscience where law is unspoken and judicial intervention is necessary.
Therefore, the SCI prepared the principles of International Convention on Maritime Laws appropriate in India’s common law in the place of the previous age British legislations since there was no Indian law prevailing the Courts’ jurisdiction with reference to the maritime claims. In 2005, the Government of India spread a drafted Bill for an Admiralty Act, 2005, which proposed to revoke all of the aforementioned outdated British legislations to bring into being an inclusive law to control the jurisdiction, claims, procedure, etc in admiralty law in India. Though, it was shot down making the persistence of function of the old age British legislations for the reasons best recognized to the makers of law.
Whether one belongs to law background or not he can get an insight about the maritime law through this article and it is well said that ignorance of law is no excuse so it is better to have an understanding about laws concerning the general folks.