402. Salvage payable for saving life, cargo or wreck.-
(1) Where services are rendered-
(a) wholly or in part within the territorial waters of India in saving life from any vessel, or elsewhere in saving life from a vessel registered In India; or
(b) in assisting a vessel or saving the cargo or equipment of a vessel which is wrecked, stranded or in distress at any place on or near the coasts of India; or
(c) by any person other than the receiver of wreck in saving any wreck;
there shall be payable to the salvor by the owner of the vessel, cargo, equipment or wreck, a reasonable sum for salvage having regard to all the circumstances of the case.
(2) Salvage in respect of the preservation of life when payable by the owner of the vessel shall be payable in priority to all other claims for salvage.
(3) Where salvage services are rendered by or on behalf of the Government or by a vessel of the Indian Navy 2[or of the Coast Guard] or the commander or crew of any such vessel, the Government, the commander or the crew, as the case may be, shall be entitled to salvage and shall have the same rights and remedies in respect of those services as any other salvor.
2[Explanation.-"Coast Guard" means the Coast Guard constituted under section 3 of the Coast Guard Act, 1978 (30 of 1978).]
(4) Any dispute arising concerning the amount due under this section shall be determined upon application made by either of the disputing parties-
(a) to a 1[Judicial Magistrate of the first class or Metropolitan Magistrate, as the case may be,] where the amount claimed does not exceed ten thousand rupees; or
(b) to the High Court, where the amount claimed exceeds ten thousand rupees.
(5) Where there is any dispute as to the persons who are entitled to the salvage amount under this section, the 1[the Judicial Magistrate of the first class or the Metropolitan Magistrate or the High Court as the case may be,] shall decide the dispute and if the are more persons than one entitled to such amount, 2[such magistrate] or the High Court shall apportion the amount thereof among such persons.
(6) The costs of and incidental to all proceedings before 3[a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or Metropolitan Magistrate] or the High Court under this section shall be in the discretion of 2[such magistrate] or the High Court, and 2[such magistrate] or the High Court shall have full power to determine by whom or out of what property and to what extent such costs are to be paid and to give all necessary directions for the purpose aforesaid.