The government is planning an anti-piracy law to counter pirates on the high seas, with clear powers to prosecute and punish the outlaws even if they are caught outside its territorial waters.
Of late, India’s shipping industry and a large community of sailors has been gripped by worries over riding the seas
with Somali pirates who have been involved abductions and hold-ups.
Government sources said once the legislation is in place, authorities will enjoy powers to prosecute and punish pirates, whether they are captured from Indian territorial waters or outside.
“The government is working towards an anti-piracy law and the discussion is in an advanced stage. The objective of the legislation would be to give exemplary punishment to these pirates, which at present is not possible,” a senior government official said.
The team drafting the legislation includes representatives from the ministries of shipping, external affairs, home and defence. The legislation shall have the clauses related to naval operation and capturing of pirates, getting them to
India — possibly involving extradition — and prosecuting or punishing them.
The recent incident of Somali pirates not releasing seven Indian hostages even after being paid ransoms has made the Indian government sit up and think about tackling the menace with a stringent law. The proposed legislation would be in accordance with international maritime agreements.
“It’s for the first time the Somali pirates violated the agreement and it is high time the government took strong action against such offenders through a proper legal system,” the official said.