Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), 2017

In this article, IAS Exam aspirants can find the details of the Admiralty Act, India.

Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), 2017

  • Parliament gave its nod to a bill that seeks to upgrade the law related to maritime claims, arrest and detention of ships and extends jurisdiction of trial to various courts across the country.
  • The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), 2017 seeks to repeal laws such as the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890.
  • The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote. It had been passed by the Lok Sabha earlier.

This is included in the social justice part of the UPSC Syllabus and candidates can visit the linked article to get details of the exam pattern and topic-wise syllabus. Also, complement your preparation with the links given below:

Indian Judiciary List of High Courts in India
Supreme Court of India 25 Important Supreme Court Judgements for UPSC
Judicial Activism Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

Key features of the Admiralty Bill:

Admiralty jurisdiction

  • The jurisdiction with respect to maritime claims under the Bill will vest with the respective High Courts and will extend up to the territorial waters of their respective jurisdictions.
  • The central government may extend the jurisdiction of these High Courts. Currently, admiralty jurisdiction applies to the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts.
  • The Bill further extend this to the High Courts of Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala, Hyderabad, and any other High Court notified by the central government.

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Maritime claims

  • The High Courts may exercise jurisdiction on maritime claims arising out of conditions including:
    • disputes regarding ownership of a vessel
    • disputes between co-owners of a vessel regarding employment or earnings of the vessel
    • mortgage on a vessel
    • construction, repair, or conversion of the vessel
    • disputes arising out of the sale of a vessel
    • environmental damage caused by the vessel, etc.
  • The Bill defines a vessel as any ship, boat, or sailing vessel which may or may not be mechanically propelled.
  • While determining maritime claims under the specified conditions, the courts may settle any outstanding accounts between parties with regard to the vessel. They may also direct that the vessel or a share of it be sold.  With regard to a sale, courts may determine the title to the proceeds of such sale.

Read in detail about the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its functions at the linked article.

Priority of maritime claims

  • Among all claims in an admiralty proceeding, the highest priority will be given to maritime claims, followed by mortgages on the vessel, and all other claims.
  • Within maritime claims, the highest priority will be given to claims for wages due with regard to employment on the vessel.
  • This would be followed by claims with regard to loss of life or personal injury in connection with the operation of the vessel. Such claims will continue to exist even with the change of ownership of the vessel.

UPSC aspirants can also read about the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a modern version of the ancient Maritime Silk Road that connects China with Western Asia and parts of Africa.

Jurisdiction over a person

  • Courts may exercise admiralty jurisdiction against a person with regard to maritime claims.
  • However, the courts will not entertain complaints against a person in certain cases.
  • These include: (i) damage, or loss of life, or personal injury arising out of collision between vessels that was caused in India, or (ii) non-compliance with the collision regulations of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 by a person who does not reside or carry out business in India.
  • Further, Courts will not entertain action against a person until any case against them with regard to the same incident in any court outside India has ended.

Arrest of vessel

  • The courts may order for the arrest of any vessel within their jurisdiction for providing security against a maritime claim which is the subject of a proceeding.
  • They may do so under various reasons such as: (i) owner of the vessel is liable for the claim, (ii) the claim is based on mortgage of the vessel, and (iii) the claim relates to ownership of the vessel, etc.

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  • Any judgments made by a single Judge of the High Court can be appealed against to a Division Bench of the High Court.
  • Further, the Supreme Court may, on application by any party, transfer an admiralty proceeding at any stage from one High Court to any other High Court.
  • The latter High Court will proceed with the matter from the stage where it stood at the time of the transfer.


  • The central government will appoint a list of assessors qualified and experienced in admiralty and maritime matters.
  • The central government will also determine the duties of assessors and their fee. Typically, assessors assist the judges in determining rates and claims in admiralty proceedings.

Furthermore, candidates preparing for the upcoming government exams can refer to the linked article and get the best Preparation Strategy for Competitive Exams.

For the latest exam updates, study material and preparation tips, turn to BYJU’S.

Frequently Asked Questions on Admiralty 2017


Q 1. When was the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) bill passed?

Ans. The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) was enacted on August 9, 2017, and came into force on April 1, 2018. It comes under the Ministry of Shipping.

Q 2. What is the objective of Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), 2017?

Ans. The Admiralty 2017 Act aims to consolidate the laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction, legal proceedings in connection with vessels, their arrest, detention, sale and other matters connected therewith.

Related Links:

IAS Salary Indian Judicial Doctrines
Judicial Delays – RSTV: In Depth Maritime India Vision 2030
National Judicial Council & Second ARC Recommendations Women in Judiciary
Social Justice Questions in UPSC Mains GS 2 Marine Protected Areas in India


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