THE SUPPRESSION OF UNLAWFUL ACTS AGAINST SAFETY OF MARITIME NAVIGATION AND FIXED PLATFORMS ON CONTINENTAL SHELF ACT, 2002

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The Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (SUA Convention) was adopted during the Conference organized under the auspices of International Maritime Organization at London on March 10, 1988. A Protocol to the SUA Convention was also adopted on October 14, 2005. The Convention covers the illegal activities in ships that are not permanently appended to the sea bed and the Protocol applies to the illegal acts against fixed platforms. The reason for the adoption of the Convention and the Protocol was the increasing activities of terrorism that imperil the safety of the life at the ocean. Since India has acceded to the Convention and the Protocol, Parliament enacted The Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 which came into force on December 20, 2002 to comply with the obligations specified under the Convention and the Protocol. Hence the Act aims at effectual dealings with illegal activities which jeopardize the safety of sea navigation and the protection of persons and property.

Any person who illegally and deliberately commits any act of aggression against a person on board a definite platform or ship which might imperil the protection of a definite platform or safe navigation of the ship shall be imprisoned for such term as provided under the Act. A person shall also be penalized if he destructs a fixed platform or a ship or spoils a fixed platform or a ship or consignment in a ship, seizes or controls a fixed platform or a ship by compulsion or threatens or coerces and places a device or substance on fixed platform or ship that might destroy that platform or ship which might imperils the fixed platform. Additionally, any person who destroys or spoils maritime navigational methods or obstructs with their activities of a ship and corresponds false information which endangers the safe navigation shall also be punished with imprisonment and fine as provided under the Act.

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During the time of commission or attempt to commit the offences specified under the Act in relation to the fixed platform or ship commits death to a person shall be punished with death sentence, commits grievous hurt shall be imprisoned for a term extendable up to fourteen years, causes injury or seizes or intimidates shall be imprisoned for a term extendable up to ten years, threatens to jeopardize a ship or fixed platform shall be punishable for a term up to two years.

The Act emphasizes that the court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under the Act committed abroad where the commission of the offence happened in the fixed platform or on a board a ship containing Indian flag during the offence was committed, such offence is committed in a ship exclusive of a crew chartered to a lessee who has his place of business or permanent residence or the offender is an Indian citizen or is on a fixed platform or on the ship in which the offence is committed when it passes in the maritime belt of India. The Central Government is authorized under the Act to confer the power to arrest, inquiry and prosecution to any Gazetted officer under the Coast Guard or any other Gazetted officer under the Central Government. The State Government shall specify the Sessions Court to be the Designated Court after consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court. The Designated Court shall follow the proceedings according to the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the person performing prosecution shall be considered as Public Prosecutor.

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The enactment is also an extension of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, 1972 which primarily aims to delimit the sea and the resources acquired there from. Since India is signatory to the Convention and also to comply with Article 243 of the Constitution of India, Parliament enacted The Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 to be in conformity with international standards.