The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2014

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The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act no. 31 of 2014) and The Merchant Shipping (Second Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act no. 32 of 2014) were enacted with an object to make necessary amendments in the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 (Act no. 44 of 1958). The Amending Act no. 31, especially, seeks insertion of new part namely, Part XI-B after Part XI-A, and the new entries in the Section 436 of the Original Act. Prior to the passing of these Acts, the Bills were tabled before Rajya Sabha by the Minister of Shipping on March, 2013 and thereafter said were referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture on the very next day for its report. As such the Acts came into existence and were assented by President of India on 9th December, 2014. The new provisions were sought to incorporate in the Original Act was in furtherance to the ‘International Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001’ and the ‘International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006’.

The new Part (i.e. Part XI-B) is dealing with control of Harmful anti-fouling systems on ships under several sections. The section 356P in the Part deals with its application to all Indian Ships either located in India or otherwise and also it should apply to the Ships where flag of India cannot be flied but those are operated under the Indian authorities. And also the new part should have its applicability as per this Section over the Ships which entered Indian Port, shipyard or offshore terminal. However, the provisions of this new Part is not having its applicability over the warships, naval auxiliary or even the ships which are owned and operated by Indian authorities on Government non-commercial Services.

Further, section 356R is important so far it specifies that all ships under the authority of India, which are not entitled to fly the flag of India are required to comply the requirements provided under this newly inserted part to the Original Act. And remaining all other ships, in whose case the Part is applicable, should comply with requirements of Anti-fouling systems.

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Section 356S is dealing with international Anti-fouling systems certificates and issuance thereof. The section in its first sub section specifies a restriction that the Indian ships or other ships under the Indian authority, but not entitled to fly Indian flag, which is of 400 gross tonnage and above should not engage in International Voyage without the aforementioned certificate. Such certificate is to be issued to such ships by the Director General. All the such other ships, excluding fixed or floating platforms, floating storage Units and floating production storage and offloading units having length of 24 or more metres and less than 400 gross tonnage. Such ships can be engaged in International voyage with the onboard declaration. Similarly, section 356T deals with issuance of Anti-fouling Systems certificates to the foreign ships located in India and to the Indian ships located at foreign countries in pursuance with the aforementioned Convention. And the provision is applicable to only those countries which parties to the Convention or to whom the Convention is applicable. The Waste which is found due to application of such anti-fouling systems, are as per section 356U of the Act, to be managed by the Central Government by prescribing rules in order to protect the health of environment. Further, section 356V deals with records of such systems which are to be maintained by the ships concerned. Section 356W deals with inspections authority. Moreover, section 365X speaks of punishment for contravening the provisions contained in this Chapter, wherein if it is found on the report of inspection that any provisions is breached by any ship, such ships can be detained or penalty thereof can be levied by the Director General. The Central Government is vested with the power to frame rules under section 356Y, consistent with the provisions of this Part and to carry on purpose thereof. Similarly such rules should also provide for matter enumerated under several clauses provided under this section.

The next amendment which the Amending Act no. 31 has sought is the amendment of section 436 of the Original Act, wherein the Amending Act is inserting certain more offences and penalties thereof relating to contravening the provisions of certain sections in this newly added Part.

Similarly, the Second Amending Act no. 32 provides for changes in the heading of Part VII of the Original Act, wherein, the new heading is substituted as Classification of seamen, seafarer, maritime labour standards and prescription of minimum manning scale. The heading was not, originally, including seafarer, maritime labour standards.      This Amending Act is providing insertion of new provisions as Section 88A and 88B. The Section 88A deals with definition of certain terms like, declaration of maritime labour compliance, maritime labour certificate, etc. Whereas, the Section 88B deals with application of Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 to seafarers and ships engaged in commercial activities. Moreover, the Original Act specifies under section 91 that, every shipping master is required to provide desirous person not under 15 years of his age, apprentice in the sea service. However, the second Amending Act changed this Age to 16 years and also allow employment of girl apprentice. Further, Section 109 of the original Act deals with prohibition on employment of Children on ships under the sea and further provides for certain exceptions where such children are allowed thereto. However, the second Amending Act absolutely prohibits engagement of children trimmers or stokers by providing a new section therein. Finally, another important amendment is brought by this second Amending Act, is related to maritime labour certificate to the certain kinds of ships.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.