A bill which seeks to provide for stringent punishment, including death penalty or life imprisonment, to those involved in piracy at sea was introduced in Lok Sabha on Monday.
Shashi Tharoor (Cong) opposed The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill at the introduction stage saying, the provision of automatic death penalty was against the law.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the bill does not have automatic death penalty provision. He said it is factually incorrect to say that there is an automatic death penalty provision.
The proposed law is aimed at promoting the safety and security of India’s maritime trade including the safety of its crew members, according to the bill.
The government is bringing the law as part of commitment made by India while signing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. The UNCLOS was ratified by India in 1995.
According to the statement of objects, India does not have a separate domestic legislation on piracy. The provisions of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to armed robbery and the Admiralty jurisdiction of certain courts have been invoked in the past to prosecute pirates apprehended by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.
“But in the absence of any specific law relating to the offence of maritime piracy in India, problems are being faced in ensuring effective prosecution of the pirates,” it said.
According to section 3 of the bill, “whoever commits any act of piracy, shall be punished (i) with imprisonment for life; or (ii) with death, if such person in committing the act of piracy causes death or an attempt thereof.”