Law to tackle pirates on anvil

Law to tackle pirates on anvil

Since the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not have any clause on piracy, more than 100 Somali pirates who are in various jails at the moment are being charged for committing minor offences like kidnapping, firing and looting.

Being drafted jointly by the Ministry of Defence, Navy and Law Ministry, the Indian Piracy Bill may be introduced in the monsoon session of the Parliament, sources said.

The Cabinet Committee on Security had approved drafting of the law in March. Besides defining piracy and prescribing punishments for the pirates, the proposed law would also specify jurisdiction of the courts.

With heavy international maritime patrolling in the Gulf of Aden and African east coast, Somali pirates have expanded their operations and have come close to the vicinity of India targeting the nine and ten degree channels through which bulk of the South Asian cargo moves.

Even though the United Nations Convention on the Laws of Seas recognises piracy as an international crime and authorises nations to arrest the pirates and seize their vessels, individual countries need their own law for the trial.

In the absence of a legal backing and a no-offensive-action strategy, Indian Navy used to have a passive approach in dealing with Somali pirates. The standard practice after arresting them was to disarm the pirates and take their piracy triggers – ropes, ladder, grapplers and fuel – and leave them at sea.

Only in the recent months, the navy has captured pirates and brought them in the mainland for trial.

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