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Report No. 151

7.2. Parveen Singh Committee.-

But even before the Supreme Court had occasion to deal with the matter, the shipping industry had been highlighting from time to time the need to make India's admiralty law up-to-date, responsive to the requirements of the shipping industry and conducive to the efficient and speedy disposal of maritime disputes. Recognising the urgency of an enquiry into the state of this branch of law, the Ministry of Surface Transport of the Government of India set up, in December, 1986, a Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Parveen Singh, the then Director-General of Shipping1 for going into the matter thoroughly. The terms of reference of the Committee were as follows:

"(a) To study the various aspects concerning Admiralty Jurisdiction including advances made in other countries and international conventions adopted on this jurisdiction;

(b) To recommend what up-to-date consolidated maritime legislation could be introduced supported by a report explaining the statements, objects and reasons; and

(c) To make specific suggestions to establish separate Admiralty Jurisdiction/Admiralty Courts/Tribunals for the purpose of more effectively dealing with Admiralty and Maritime disputes."

The Committee submitted its report in 1987. The report comprised of two sections. The Committee surveyed the international scene, discussed the provisions of the existing law applicable in India and the changes needed in the present law to make it more responsive to the present day needs. It recommended the enactment of a legislation defining the scope of admiralty jurisdiction and submitted the draft of an Admiralty Act of India for consideration.

The Committee discussed the role of the High Courts in exercising admiralty jurisdiction and suggested a re-orientation of the nature of the courts administering admiralty law. The letter containing the terms of reference and the drafts of the Admiralty Act of India and the Admiralty Courts Act formed the three Annexures to the Report2.

1. The other members of the Committee were: Sri K.C. Sidhwa, Senior Central Government Advocate; Dr. S.N. Sanklacha (representative of the Indian National Ship owners' Association), Shri H.N. Fotedar (Managing Director, Indian Ports Association), Shri S. Venkateswaran (Advocate), Dr. Leo Barnes (General Secretary, National Union of Seafarers of India) and Shri B.S. Bhesanial of M/s. Mulla, Craigie, Blunt & Cares, Solicitors. Shri CM. Shetye, Deputy Director General of Shipping was the Member-Secretary.

2. The Annexure to the Report of the Committee are made Annexures to this Report for the purposes of convenient reference.

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