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MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT

Ministry of Law and Justice

Act nº 44 of 1958


  • Part I
  • Part II. National Shipping Board
  • Part III
  • Part IV. Shipping Development Fund
  • Part V. Registration of Indian Ships
  • Part V. Certificates of Officers
  • Part VIA. Obligation of Certain Certificate Holders to Serve Government
  • Part VII
  • Part VIII
  • Part IX
  • Part IXA. Nuclear Ships
  • Part IXB. Security of Ships and Port Facilities
  • Part X. Collisions, Accounts At Sea and Liability
  • Part XA. Limitation of Liability
  • Part XB. Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage
  • Part XC. International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund
  • Part XI
  • Part XIA. Prevention and Containment of Pollution of the Sea by Oil
  • Part XII
  • Part XIII
  • Part XIV. Control of Indian Ships and Engaged in Coasting Trade
  • Part XV
  • Part XVA. Fishing Boats
  • Part XVI
  • Part XVII
  • Part XVIII
  • Schedules
  • Amending Acts
  • Act nº 44 of 1958

Preamble

THE MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT, 1958

[Act, No. 44 of 1958]

[30th October, 1958]

PREAMBLE

An Act to foster the development and ensure the efficient maintenance of an Indian mercantile marine in a manner best suited to serve the national interests and for that purpose to establish a National Shipping Board1[x x x x x] to provide for the 2[registration, certification, safety and security] of Indian ships and generally to amend and consolidate the law relating to merchant shipping.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Ninth Year of the Republic of India as follows:--

1. Words "and a Shipping Development fund" omitted by Shipping Development fund Committee (Abolition) Act (66 of 1986), Section 3 (3-4T87).

2. Substituted for the word "registration" by the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2007 [Act No. 40 of 2007].


Part I

Section 1. Short title and commencement

(1) This Act may be called The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.

(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act.

Section 2. Application of Act

1[2. Application of Act

(1) Unless otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of this Act which apply to--

(a) any vessel which is registered in India; or

(b) any vessel which is required by this Act to be so registered; or

(c) any other vessel which is owned wholly by persons to each of whom any of the descriptions specified in clause (a) or in clause (b) or in clause (c), as the case may be, of section 21 applies, shall so apply wherever the vessel may be.

(2) Unless otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of this Act which apply to vessels other than those referred to in sub-section (1) shall so apply only while any such vessel is within India, including the territorial2waters thereof.]

1. Substituted for former Section 2 by Merchant Shipping (Amdt.) Act, 1983 (12 of 1983), Section 2(18-5-1983).

2. The territorial waters of India extend into the sea to a distance of twelve nautical miles measured from the appropriate baseline.


Section 3. Definition

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,--

1 [(1) "cargo ship" means a ship which is not a 'Passenger ship'.]

2 [(1A)] "coasting ship" means a ship exclusively employed in trading between any port or place in India and any other port or place on the continent of India or between ports or places in India and ports or places in Ceylon or Burma;

(2) "coasting trade of India" means the carriage by sea of passengers or goods from any port or place in India to any other port or place on the continent of India;

(3) "collision regulations" means the regulations made under Section 285 for the prevention of collisions at sea;

(4) "company" means a company as defined in Section 3 of the Companies Act, 1956;

(5) "country to which the Load Line Convention applies" means,--

(a) a country the Government of which has been declared 3 [***] under Section 283 to have accepted the Load Line Convention and has not been so declared to have denounced that Convention;

(b) a country to which it has been so declared that, the Load Line Convention has been applied under the provisions of 4 [Article thirty-two] thereof, not being a country to which it has been so declared that that Convention has ceased to apply under the provisions of that article;

(6) "country to which the Safety Convention applies" means,--

(a) a country the Government of which has been declared under Section 283 to have accepted the Safety Convention and has not been so declared to have denounced that Convention;

(b) a territory to which it has been so declare that the Safety Convention extends, not being a territory to which it has been so declared that that Convention has ceased to extend;

(7) "court" in relation to Sections 178 to 183 (inclusive) means a civil or revenue court;

(8) "Director-General" means the Director-General of Shipping appointed under Section 7;

(9) "distressed seaman" means a seaman engaged under this Act who, by reason of having been discharged or left behind from, or shipwrecked in, any ship at a place outside India, is in distress at that place;

(10) "effects", in relation to a seaman, includes clothes and documents;

(11) "equipment", in relation to a ship, includes boats, tackle, pumps, apparel, furniture, life saving appliances of every description, spars, masts, rigging and sails, fog signals, lights, shapes and signals of distress, medicines and medical and surgical stores and appliances, charts, radio installations, appliances for preventing, detecting or extinguishing fires, buckets, compasses, axes, lanterns, loading and discharging gears and appliances of all kinds and all other stores or articles belonging to or to be used in connection with or necessary for the navigation and safety of the ship;

5 [(11A) "family" means--

(i) in the case of male, his wife, his children whether married or unmarried, his dependent parents and his deceased son's widow and children;

Provided that if a person proves that his wife has ceased under the personal law governing him or the customary law of the community to which the spouses belong to be entitled to maintenance she shall no longer be deemed to be a part of such person's family for the purpose of this Act unless such person subsequently intimates by express notice in writing, to the Central Government that she shall continue to be so regarded; and

(ii) in the case of female, her husband, her children, whether married or unmarried, her dependent parents, her husband's dependent parents and her deceased son's widow and children;

Provided that if a person by notice in writing to the Central Government expresses her desire to exclude her husband from the family, the husband and his dependent parents shall no longer be deemed to be a part of such person's family for the purpose of this Act, unless such person subsequently cancels in writing any such notice,

Explanation.-- In either of the above two cases if the child, or, as the case may be the child of a deceased son, of a person has been adopted by another person and if under the personal Jaw of the adopter adoption is legally recognised, such a child shall be considered as excluded from the family of the first mentioned person.]

(12) "fishing vessel" means a ship fitted with mechanical, means of propulsion which is exclusively engaged in sea fishing for profit;

(13) "foreign-going ship" means a ship, not being a home-trade ship, employed in trading between any port or place in India and any other port or place or between ports or places, outside India;

6 [(14) "free board" means the distance measured vertically downwards, amidships from the upper edge of the deck line to the upper edge of the related load line;]

(15) "High Court", in relation to a vessel, means the High Court within the limits of whose appellate jurisdiction--

(a) the port of registry of the vessel is situate; or

(b) the vessel is for the time being; or

(c) the cause of action wholly or in part arises;

(16) "home-trade ship" means a ship not exceeding three thousand tons gross which is employed in trading between any port or place in India and any other port or place on the continent of India or between ports or places in India and ports or places in Ceylon, Maladive Islands, Federation of Malaya, Singapore or Burma;

(17) "Indian consular officer" means the consul-general, consul, vice-consul, consular agent and pro-consul appointed as such by the Central Government, and includes any person authorised by the Central Government to perform the functions of consul-general, consul, vice-consul, consular agent or pro-consul;

(18) "Indian ship" means a ship registered as such under this Act and includes any ship registered at any port in India at the commencement of this Act which is recognized as an Indian ship under the proviso to sub-Section (2) of Section 22;

7 [(18A) "international voyage" means a voyage from or to a port or place in India to or from a port or place outside India;]

(19) "load line certificate" means the certificate issued under Section 316 or Section 321;

8 [(20) "Local Line Contention" means the International Convention on Load Lines signed in London on the 5th day of April, 1966, as amended from time to time;]

(21) "Marine board" means a Board of Marine Inquiry convened under Section 373;

(22) "master" includes any person (except a pilot or harbour master) having command or charge of a ship;

9 [(22) "nuclear ship" means a ship provided with a nuclear power plant;]

(23) "owner" means--

(a) in relation to a ship, the person to whom the ship or a share in the ship belongs;

(b) in relation to a sailing vessel, the person to whom the sailing vessel belongs;

(24) "Passenger" means any person carried on board a ship except--

(a) a person employed or engaged in any capacity on board the ship on the business of the ship;

(b) a person on board the ship either in pursuance of the obligations laid upon the master to carry shipwrecked, distressed or other persons or by reason of any circumstances which neither the master nor the charterer, if any, could have prevented or forestalled;

(c) a child under one year of age;

(25) "passenger ship" means a ship carrying more than twelve passengers;

(26) "pilgrim" means a person making a pilgrimage and, in the case of a passenger on board a pilgrim ship, includes every person accompanying or travelling with the person making the pilgrimage;

10 [(27) "pilgrimage" means pilgrimage to any holy place in the Hediaz or to any other place declared by the Central Government to be a place of pilgrimage by notification in Official Gazette;]

11 [(28) "pilgrim ship" means a special trade passenger ship which makes a voyage to or from the Hedjaz, or, as the case may be, to or from any other place of pilgrimage declared as such by the Central Government in pursuance of clause (27), during the season of the pilgrimage and which carries pilgrims in a proportion of not less than one pilgrim for every one hundred tons of the gross tonnage of the ship;';]

(29) "port of registry", in relation to a ship or a sailing vessel, means the port at which she is registered or is to be registered;

(30) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

(31) "proceeding" in relation to Sections 178 to 183 (inclusive) includes any suit, appeal or application;

(32) "proper officer" means the officer designated by the Central Government to be the proper officer at the port or place and in respect of the matter to which reference is made in the provision of this Act in which the expression occurs;

(33) "proper return port", in relation to a master, seaman or apprentice discharged or left behind; means the port at which the master, seaman or apprentice was engaged, or the port agreed to as such by the master, seaman or apprentice, as the case may be;

(34) "radio inspector" means a person appointed as such under Section 10;

(35) "registrar" means the registrar referred to in Section 24;

(36) (a) "repatriation expenses" means expenses incurred in returning a distressed seaman to a proper return port and in providing him with necessary clothing and maintenance until his arrival at such port, and includes in the case of a ship wrecked seaman the repayment of expenses incurred in conveying him to port after shipwreck and maintaining him while being so conveyed; and

(b) "excepted expenses", in relation to repatriation expenses, means repatriation expenses incurred in cases where the cause of the seaman being left behind is desertion or absence without leave or imprisonment for misconduct or discharge from his ship by a Marine Board on the ground of misconduct;

(37) "Safety Convention" means the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea signed in London on the 12 [1st day of November, 1974] as amended from time to time;

13 [(38) "safety convention certificate" means,--

(i) a passenger ship safety certificate,

14 [(ia) a special trade passenger ship safety certificate,

(ib) a special trade passenger ship space certificate,]

(ii) a qualified passenger ship safety certificate,

(iii) a cargo Ship safety construction Certificate,

(iv) a qualified cargo ship safety construction certificate,

(v) a cargo ship safety equipment certificate,

(vi) a qualified cargo ship safety equipment certificate,

(vii) a cargo ship safety radio telegraphy certificate,

(viii) a cargo ship safety radio telephony certificate,

(ix) an exemption certificate,

(x) a nuclear passenger ship safety certificate,

(xi) a nuclear cargo ship safety certificate, issued under Part IX or, as the case may be, Part IXA;]

(39) "sailing vessel", means any description of vessel provided with sufficient sail area for navigation under sails alone, whether or not fitted with mechanical means of propulsion, and includes a rowing boat or canoe but does not include a pleasure craft;

(40) "salvage" includes all expenses properly incurred by the salvor in the performance of salvage services;

(41) "sea-going", in relation to a vessel, means a vessel proceeding to sea beyond inland waters or beyond waters declared to be smooth or partially smooth waters by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette;

(42) "seaman" means every person (except a master, pilot or apprentice) employed or engaged as a member of the crew of a ship under this Act, but in relation to Sections 178 to 183 (inclusive) includes a master;

(43) "seamen's employment office" means the seamen's employment office referred to in Section 12;

(44) "seamen's welfare officer" means the seamen's welfare officer referred to in Section 13;

18[(44A) "security" means maritime security and includes any measure to protect ports or ships or any person or thing relating directly or indirectly to maritime navigation,

(i) against terrorism, sabotage, stowaways, illegal migrants, asylum seekers, piracy, armed robbery, seizure or pilferage; and

(ii) against any other hostile act or influence which threatens the security in the maritime transport sector,

employed by the owners or operators or persons in charge of the vessels or management of port facilities, offshore installations and other marine organisations or establishments;]

(45) "ship" does not include a sailing vessel];

(46) "shipping master" means the shipping master referred to in Section 11; but in relation to any seaman for the purposes of Sections 178 to 183 ((inclusive) means a shipping master appointed,--

(i) for the port at which the seaman entered into, or is believed to have entered into, an agreement, or

(ii) where the seaman did not enter into his agreement in India, for the port to which the seaman has returned, or is expected to return, on the completion of his latest voyage;

(47) "shipping office" means the shipping office referred in Section 11;

15 [(47A) "special trade" means the conveyance of large number of passengers by sea within prescribed sea areas;

(47B) "special trade passenger" means a passenger carried in special trade passenger ship in spaces on the weather deck or upper deck or between decks which accommodate more than eight passengers and includes a pilgrim or a person accompanying a pilgrim;

(47C) "special trade passenger ship" means a mechanically propelled ship carrying more than thirty special trade passengers;]

(48) "surveyor" means the surveyor referred to in Section 9;

16 [(48 A) "tanker" means a cargo ship constructed or adapted for the carriage in bulk of liquid cargoes of an inflammable nature;]

(49) "tidal water" means any part of the sea and any part of a river within the ebb and flow of the tide at ordinary spring tides and not being a harbour;

(50) "tindal" means the person in command or charge of a sailing vessel;

17 [********]

17 [*********]

(53) "valid international load line certificate" means a certificate purporting to have been issued in accordance with the Load Line Convention in respect of a ship, other than an Indian ship, by the Government of the country in which the ship is registered;

(54) "valid safety convention certificate" means a certificate purporting to have been issued in accordance with the Safety Convention in respect of a ship, other than an Indian ship, by the Government of the country in which the ship is registered;

(55) "vessel" includes any ship, boat, sailing vessel, or other description of vessel used in navigation;

(56) "voyage" for the purposes of Part VIII, means the whole distance between the ship's port or place of departure and her final port or place of arrival;

(57) "wages" includes emoluments;

(58) "wreck" includes the following when found in the sea or in tidal water or on the shores thereof--

(a) goods which have been cast into the sea and then sink and remain under water;

(b) goods which have been cast or fall into the sea and remain floating on the surface;

(c) goods which are sunk in the sea, but are attached to a floating object in order that they may be found again;

(d) goods which are thrown away or abandoned; and

(e) a vessel abandoned without hope or intention of recovery;

(59) "young person" means a person under eighteen years of age.

1. Inserted by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1966 (21 of 1966), Section 2 (28-5-66).

2. Original clause (1) so re-numbered by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1966 (21 of 1966), Section 2 (28-5-66).

3. Words "or is deemed to have been declared" omitted by Act 25 of 1970, Section 2(a) (w.r.e.f. 21-7-1968).

4. Substituted for 'Article twenty-one' by Act 25 of 1970, Section 2(a) (w.r.e.f. 21-7-1968).

5. Inserted by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act (41 of 1984), Section 2 (15-7-85).

6. Substituted for former Clause 14 by the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1970(25 of 1970), Section 2(b) (w.r.e.f. 21-7-1988).

7. Inserted by Act 21 of 966, Section 2 (28-5-1966).

8. Substituted for former clause by Act 25 of 1970, Section 2(o) (21-7-1968).

9. Inserted by Act 21 of 1966, Section 2 (28-5-1966).

10. Substituted for former clause (27) by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1976 (69 of 1976), Section 3(a) (1-12-1976).

11. Substituted for former clause (28) by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1976 (69 of 1976), Section 3(a) (1-12-1976).

12. Substituted for the figures, letters and words "17th day of June 1966" by the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1983 (12 of 1983), Section 3 (18-5-1983).

13. Substituted for former Clause (38) by Act 21 of 1966, Section 2(c), (28-5-1966).

14. Inserted by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1976 (69 of 1976), Section 3(b) (1-12-1976).

15. Inserted by Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1976 (69 of 1976), Section 3(c) (1-12-1976).

16. Inserted by Act 21 of 1966, Section 2(f) (28-5-1966).

17. Clauses (51) and (52) omitted by the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1976 (69 of 1976), Section 3(d) (1-12-1976).

18. Inserted by the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2007 [Act No. 40 of 2007].


Part II
National Shipping Board

1. Part II came into force on 15-12-1953.


Section 4. Establishment of National Shipping Board

(1) With effect from such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf, there shall be established a Board to be called the National Shipping Board (hereinafter in this Part referred to as the Board).

(2) The Board shall consist of the following members, namely:--

(a) six members elected by Parliament, four by the House of the People from among its members and the other two by the Council of States from among its members;

(b) such number of other members, not exceeding sixteen as the Central Government may think fit to appoint to the Board, to represent--

(i) the Central Government,

(ii) ship owners,

(iii) seamen, and

(iv) such other interests as, in the opinion of the Central Government, ought to be represented on the Board :

Provided that the Board shall include an equal number of persons representing the ship owners and seamen.

(3) The Central Government shall nominate one of the members of the Board to be the Chairman of the Board.

(4) The Board shall have power to regulate its own procedure.

Section 5. Functions of National Shipping Board

The Board shall advise the Central Government --

(a) on matters relating to Indian shipping, including the development thereof; and

(b) on such other matters arising out of this Act as the Central Government may refer to it for advice.

Section 6. Power to make rule in respect of matters in this Part

(1) The Central Government may make rules to carry out the purposes of this Part.

(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely :--

(a) the term of office of members of the Board and the manner of filling casual vacancies in the Board;

(b) the appointment of officers and other employees to enable the Board to discharge its functions under section 5 and the terms and conditions of their service;

(c) the travelling and other allowances payable to members of the Board.

Part III

Section 7. Director-General of Shipping

Director-General of Shipping1

(1) The Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint a person to be the Director-General of Shipping for the purpose of exercising or discharging the powers, authority or duties conferred or imposed upon the Director-General by or under this Act.

(2) The Central Government may, by general or special order, direct that any power, authority or jurisdiction exercisable by it under or in relation to any such provisions of this Act as may be specified in the order shall, subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be so specified, be exercisable also by the Director-General or by such other officer as may be specified in the order.

(3) The Director-General may, by general or special order, and with the previous approval of the Central Government, direct that any power or authority conferred upon or delegated to, and any duty imposed upon, the Director-General by or under this Act may, subject to such conditions and restrictions as he may think fit to impose, be exercised or discharged also by such officer or other authority as he may specify in this behalf.

1. Section 7 came into force on 1st April, 1960.


Section 8. Mercantile Marine Department

(1) The Central Government may establish and maintain at each of the ports of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras and at such other port1in India as it may consider necessary an office of the Mercantile Marine Department for the administration of this Act and the rules and regulations thereunder.

(2) The office of the Mercantile Marine Department at the port of Bombay, Calcutta or Madras shall be in the charge of a principal officer and the office at any other port1shall be in the charge of such officer as the Central Government may appoint in this behalf.

(3) In the discharge of their duties, the principal officer and other officers shall be subject to the control of the Director-General.

1. Besides these ports, such offices have also been established at Cochin and Visakhapatnam w.e.f. 1-1-1961 and Surveyors at the said ports appointed as officers in charge of the offices .


Section 9. Surveyors

(1) The Central Government may by, notification in the Official Gazette, appoint at such ports as it may consider necessary as many persons as it may think fit to be surveyors for the purposes of this Act.

1[(1A) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1), the Central Government, in the case of cargo ships; may, by notification2in the Official Gazette authorise any person or body of persons, on such terms and conditions as may be specified therein, to be surveyor or surveyors for the purposes of this Act.].

(2) The surveyors may be nautical surveyors, ship surveyors or engineer and ship surveyors.

(3) At any port at which no surveyor appointed under this section is available, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint any qualified person to perform the functions of a surveyor under this Act.

(4) All acts done under this Act by a principal officer of the Mercantile Marine Department or a person appointed under sub-section (3) relating to matters within the competence of a surveyor shall have the same effect as if done by a surveyor for the purposes of this Act.

1. Inserted by Act 21 of 1966, Section 3 (25-8-1966).

2. Llyods Shipping Register; (ii) Bureau Veritas; (iii) Det Norske Veritas; (iv) American Bureau of Shipping; (v) Germanischer Llyod; (vi) Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Japan) are the societies authorised to issue certificates under Section 299A (1) of this Act.


Section 10. Radio inspectors

The Central Government may, by notification a in the Official Gazette, appoint as many radio inspectors as it may consider necessary for the purpose of securing that the requirements of this Act and the rules and regulations there under relating to radio telegraphy, radio telephony and direction finders are complied with.

Section 11. Shipping offices

(1) The Central Government may, by notification1in the Official Gazette, establish a shipping office at every port in India in which it thinks it necessary so to do, and shall appoint thereto a shipping master and as many deputy shipping masters and assistant shipping masters, as it may consider necessary.

(2) Shipping masters, deputy shipping masters and assistant shipping masters shall exercise their powers and discharge their duties subject to the general control of the Central Government or of any intermediate authority which the Central Government may specify in this behalf.

(3) The Central Government may direct that at any port at which no separate shipping office is established, the whole or any part of the business of the shipping office shall be conducted at the custom house or at the office of the port officer or at such other office as the Central Government may specify, and thereupon the same shall be conducted accordingly.

(4) All acts done by or before a deputy shipping master, an assistant shipping master and the officer to whom any business of the shipping office is committed under sub-section (3) shall have the same effect as if done by or before a shipping master for the purposes of this Act.

1. Such offices have been opened at Calcutta and Bombay w.e.f. 1-1-1961 .