A Parliamentary committee has recommended reviewing the provision for death penalty for pirates involved in killing or attempt to murder cases in the proposed Piracy Bill, saying extradition of accused may be difficult if the maximum punishment was not reversed.
Approving the Piracy Bill 2012, the Standing Committee on External Affairs said government may review the penalty considering the international nature of the crime, involvement of foreign actors and refusal by certain foreign governments to extradite criminals in view of existence of death penalty clause in Indian law.
The panel also wants that security personnel authorised by the government to tackle pirates be provided certain legal immunity "for acts done in good faith".
The Bill has been brought as India does not have a separate domestic legislation on piracy and prosecution for piracy as a crime has not been included in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The Bill was tabled in Parliament in the budget session.
According to the bill whoever commits an act of piracy shall be punished with imprisonment for life except where the accused has caused death in committing the act of piracy or attempt thereof in which case he may be punished with death,
The bill, brought in the backdrop of rising incidence of piracy including within India's Exclusive Economic Zone, is aimed at bringing "certainty" and "clarity" in the law and provides sound basis for effective prosecution of pirates held by the Indian authorities irrespective of their nationalities.
The Standing Committee, in the report tabled in the Lok Sabha today, also recommended having legal immunity for acts done in good faith so that security personnel duly authorised by the government to deal with the problem get protection.
"Though, such a provision may be inherent in the Bill, but the committee strongly recommend that such provision must be explicitly incorporated in the body of the main bill and that security personnel duly authorised by the government shall be covered with certain impunity provisions," the report said.
The proposed law will also be treated as the legal basis for extradition of accused from countries with whom India does not have a bilateral agreement and it will extend to the exclusive economic zone of India.
In the report, the committee headed by BJP leader Ananth Kumar recommended that efforts should be made to look comprehensively on issues of regulation of ships, rules for foreign flagships as well as address the issue of communication, intelligence and intelligence sharing during pre and post piracy within various ministries and agencies.
During scrutiny of the Bill, the committee went through views and suggestions of various stakeholders including Ministries of External Affairs, Home Affairs, Shipping, Law and Justice but it was unable to reach any conclusion about the responsibility of each ministry in the matter, the report said.
The committee, however, said Ministry of External Affairs should be designated as nodal ministry for piloting the Bill as well as implementation of its provisions.
Asking the government to make all efforts to enhance international cooperation to contain piracy, the committee said India must be part of all such international endeavours to combat the challenge.
The committee also recommended changing the name of the bill to Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill saying the word piracy may be confusing.
The legislation provides for setting up of designated courts for speedy trial of offences of piracy and territorial jurisdiction of each such court.
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.