The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020 (Part I)

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has on 25th November,2020 published the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020 for public comments. This bill will replace the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, if enacted. The last date for submitting comments is 24 December 2020.

The Bill consists of 15 parts with a total of 325 Sections. The outline of the Bill along with the corresponding part in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 is provided here below:

Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020Corresponding Parts in Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
Part I – PrelimimaryPart I – Preliminary
Part II – Establishment of Boards and General AdministrationPart II – Establishment of Board
Part III – General Administration
Part VII – Seamen and Apprentices ( Section 218- 218A)
Part III – Registration of VesselsPart V – Registration of Indian Ships
Part IV – Certificate of Competency and Certificate of ProficiencyPart VI – Certificate of Officers
Part V – SeafarersPart VII – Seamen and Apprentices
Part VI – Safety and SecurityPart IX – Safety
Part VII – Prevention, Containment of Pollution from Vessel and ResponsePart XIA – Prevention and Containment of Pollution of the Sea by Oil
Part XIB – Control of Anti-Fouling systems of Ships
Part VIII – Survey, Audit and CertificationSections from various Parts of the Act
Part IX – Maritime Liability and CompensationPart X – Collision, Accidents at Sea and Liability
Part XA – Limitation of Liability
Part XB – Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage
Part XC – International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund
Part X – Marine Incident and Emergency Response
Part XI – Investigation and InquiriesPart XII – Investigation and Inquiries
Part XII – Wreck and SalvagePart III – Wreck and Salvage
Part XIII – Sailing and Fishing VesselsPart XV – Sailing Vessel
Part XVA -Fishing Vessel
Part XIV – Penalties and Procedures Part XVI – Penalties and Procedure
Part XV – MiscellaneousPart IX-A – Nuclear Ships
Part XVII – Miscellaneous
Comparison Table

It is seen in general that the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020 is more concise and less detailed in comparison to the Act of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.

Prima facie, the Bill seems to have change definitions which were provided under the Merchant Shipping Act and has provided for establishment of new authorities and for expansion of powers of existing authorities. For example, the Welfare Board for Seafarers are also given responsibility to take measures regarding abandoned foreign seafarers in Indian waters.

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