The Navy Act, 1957

The Navy Act, 1957 (Act No. 62 OF 1957) dated 27th December, 1957, being the Act of Parliament was assented by President of India on 18th November, 2008. The Act was enacted with the object and motive to consolidate and amend the law relating to the Government of the Indian Navy. As to the extension of this Act, the Act was seen extended to Goa, Daman and Diu with certain modification by 1962 and in Pondicherry by 1963, similarly it was came into force in Dadra and Nagar Haveli by 1963.

The first Chapter of the Act deals with preliminary provisions explaining short title as “Navy Act, 1957” and also its commencement, under Section 1 thereof. The Section 2 of the Act enlisted the number of persons who should be subjected to the provisions of this Act. This include the belongings of Navy under its service, the belongings of the Indian Naval Reserve Forces, the members the regular Army and the Air Force when they embarked on board any ship or aircraft of Navy, etc. However, sub section (2) of this provision provides for the person who should be deemed as subjected to naval laws, which includes persons who are ordered to be received or who are passenger on board any ship or aircraft of Navy and all person who are being sentenced under the provisions of this Act. Moreover, the Section 3 of the Act defines various terminologies used for the purpose of explaining provisions under the Act.

Section 4 of the Act is important so far as it concerned with applicability of Fundamental Rights covered under Part III of the Constitution of India, to the persons being subjected under this Act. However, such rights should be made applicable to such persons with certain restrictions as given under this Act.

The Second Chapter of the Act under Section 5 thereof, empowers the Central Government to raise and maintain regular, reserve and auxiliary naval forces.

The another important chapter i.e. Chapter III relates with special provisions relating to discipline in certain cases, wherein Section 6 of the Act specifies provisions in respect of discipline of persons under engagement to serve Central Government, who were not subject to the naval law. Further, whenever, the members of regular Army and Air Force or others serving with members of Navy then they should be subjected to such discipline as per section 7 of the Act, however, the powers of punishment should not be exercised by them. Similarly, section 8 of the Act makes provisions in respect of discipline of master of merchant vessel under convey.

Chapter IV deals with other significant provisions relating to commissions, appointment and enrolments wherein, Section 9 provides that the persons who are Indian Citizen are eligible for appointment or enrolment in Indian Navy or the Indian Naval Reserve Forces, however, it is possible with the consent of Central Government. Even Women are also eligible to be appointed or enrolled in the department, branch or other body being part of Indian Navy or the Indian Naval Reserve Forces. Further, Section 10 of the Act empowers the Commission granted by the President, to appoint the Officers other than subordinate officers. Such grant of Commission by the President should be notified in the Official Gazette for proof thereof. Section 11 of the Act makes provisions as to enrolment of persons as sailors in the prescribed way for not exceeding 20 years. And section 12 deals with Validity of enrolment and Section 13 provides for oath of allegiance of such Sailors. And the Chapter V of the Act describes the conditions of service of such Officers and Sailors, wherein liability for their service, tenure of their service, entitlement of discharged of sailor. The next provision being important so far as it is relating to Constitutional rights i.e. right to form association, freedom of speech. The section 19 provides for restrictions in respect of such exercising these rights by the person subjected to this Naval Law.

Further, Chapter VI deals with service privileges for those who are under service of in Navy, including immunity from attachment of arms, cloths, equipments, etc. Similarly, there is an immunity from arrest against debt proceedings and other immunities are also provided under subsequent sections to this provision for those serving under service of Navy.

The next chapter deals with provisions relating to pay, pension, etc. and deductions thereof and also relating to maintenance of families including legitimate child and wife of such persons subjected to Naval Law.

The persons while being flag officer, captain or other person subject to naval law, being under command of ship, vessel or aircraft of Navy, if fails to perform their duties as to such ships, etc. or surrenders such ships, etc even when it is capable of defending or do all given acts, then such persons should be punished and punishment can be extended up to death penalty. Even other persons can also be punished for such misconducts. Similarly, other section in the Act deals with such kinds of offences and punishments thereof. Moreover, the Section 75 of the Act deals with attempts to commit any such offences and section 76 specifies abetment of offenders in committing such offences and punishments thereof. The Section 77 of the Act explains civil offences and also punishments for such offences and section 78 and 79 deals with jurisdiction as to places and offences and also as to time. And other related provisions are contained under subsequent sections of the Act.

Further, chapter XI and X deals with punishments and provisions of arrest with or without warrant, investigation. Chapter XI, similarly, deals with provisions as to charge. The procedure relating to court-martial proceedings and execution of punishments and all other relevant provisions are contained under subsequent chapters and Sections therein. The Act does not require confirmation of the sentence or order recorded by the Courts Martial as is required under the Army Act, 1950.

Chapter XV of the Act deals with provisions as to judicial review of Court-martial proceedings by Judge Advocate General of Navy and on such review a report has to be submitted to Chief of Naval staff, which such Chief of Naval Staff should in case of capital sentence and in case of court-martial order by President make its report to the Central Government. Further, Chapter XVI deals with modification of such order of sentencing and pardon. For such challenges against the findings and orders of sentencing, a petition can be made before either the Central Government or Chief of Naval Staff and these authorities are empowered under section 163 of the Act as to setting aside, alteration of findings, etc.

Another important provision is relating to making of regulations for the governance, command, discipline, recruitment, conditions of service, etc. by Central Government. Besides, the Central Government also empowered to make regulations on given list of matters under Section 184, sub Section (2), of the Act under its Chapter XX. Such regulations can also be made with retrospective effect, but not in all situations. Finally, the provisions of this Act is required to be applied on existing Navy including Indian Navy, Indian Naval Reserve, etc. The Act was amended in the year 2005, by the Navy (Amendment) Act, 2005, wherein certain provisions of the original Act was amended to provide effective results as to its purposes.

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan