The Piracy Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on April 24, 2012. According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, there has been a significant increase in attacks by pirates, particularly in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. This has affected security of maritime traffic and personnel plying between Asia, Europe and Africa. Moreover, enhanced naval presence in the Gulf of Aden is now causing pirates to shift operations close to India’s Exclusive Economic Zone. As a result, a number of Somali pirates are presently in the custody of Indian police authorities. However, since piracy as a crime is not included in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), this has led to problems in prosecution. The Piracy Bill intends to fill this gap and provide clarity in the law. The Bill, if passed by Parliament, would extend to the entire Exclusive Economic Zone of India (EEZ). Under international law, EEZ is a seazone over which a country has special rights for exploration and use of marine resources. It stretches outward from the coast, up to 200 nautical miles into the sea. The Bill defines 'piracy' as any illegal act of violence or detention for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft on high seas or at a place outside the jurisdiction of any State. This definition is akin to the definition of piracy laid down under the 'United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea'. The Bill seeks to punish piracy with imprisonment for life. In cases where piracy leads to death, it may be punished with death. It also provides that if arms, ammunition are recovered from the possession of the accused, or if there is evidence of threat of violence, the burden of proof for proving innocence would shift to the accused. The Bill empowers the government to set up designated courts for speedy trial of offences and authorizes the court to prosecute the accused regardless of his/ her nationality. It also provides for extradition. You can access the Bill text here.
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha