India lacks legal system to prosecute pirates

CBI Director Ranjit Sinha said that the Indian legal system lacks clear and unambiguous mechanism to prosecute maritime pirates.

Inaugurating a three-day workshop on Maritime Piracy in cooperation with BKA Germany, Sinha rued, “India does not have a separate domestic legislation to deal with piracy-related offences. In the absence of a clear and unambiguous reference to the offence of maritime piracy in the Indian law, problems have been faced in ensuring effective prosecution of the pirates.”

He said the piratical acts by a foreigner committed outside territorial waters of the country do not constitute an offence under the IPC.

“These offences may attract lower sentences and cases may take a long time to be disposed off,” he said.

The CBI chief said piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping and trade and it is estimated the annual economic cost of Somali piracy was around 6.1 billion USD in 2012.

“Indian Ocean has also witnessed a spurt in Maritime Piracy. Indian crew as well as Indian Cargo ships have been victims in the recent years,” he said.

With Indian naval presence in the Gulf of Aden, Sinha said the problem was that some pirates began to shift their operations eastwards and southwards.

“This led to some of the pirates operating closer to the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Western coast of India. From December 2010, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard conducted several major anti- piracy operations off India’s Western Coast and apprehended around 120 suspected pirates,” he said.

Stressing on the need for a coordinated response under the legal framework provided by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Sinha said, there needs to be a domestic legal framework to prosecute and punish pirates.

“The objective is to make special provisions for the suppression of piracy, criminalise the act of piracy and to establish universal jurisdiction for Indian Courts,” he said.

The CBI Chief said for combating any crime law enforcement agencies need to be thoroughly prepared.

“Capacity building is an integral part of this exercise. This type of crime has multiple jurisdictions and investigation may be spread over several countries,” he said.

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