4. Maritime claim. – (1) The High Court may exercise jurisdiction to hear and determine any question on a maritime claim, against any vessel, arising out of any-
(a) dispute regarding the possession or ownership of a vessel or the ownership of any share therein;
(b) dispute between the co-owners of a vessel as to the employment or earnings of the vessel;
(c) mortgage or a charge of the same nature on a vessel;
(d) loss or damage caused by the operation of a vessel;
(e) loss of life or personal injury occurring whether on land or on water, in direct connection with the operation of a vessel;
(f) loss or damage to or in connection with any goods;
(g) agreement relating to the carriage of goods or passengers on board a vessel, whether contained in a charter party or otherwise;
(h) agreement relating to the use or hire of the vessel, whether contained in a charter party or otherwise;
(i) salvage services, including, if applicable, special compensation relating to salvage services in respect of a vessel which by itself or its cargo threatens damage to the environment;
(l) goods, materials, perishable or non-perishable provisions, bunker fuel, equipment (including containers), supplied or services rendered to the vessel for its operation, management, preservation or maintenance including any fee payable or leviable;
(m) construction, reconstruction, repair, converting or equipping of the vessel;
(n) dues in connection with any port, harbour, canal, dock or light tolls, other tolls, waterway or any charges of similar kind chargeable under any law for the time being in force;
(o) claim by a master or member of the crew of a vessel or their heirs and dependents for wages or any sum due out of wages or adjudged to be due which may be recoverable as wages or cost of repatriation or social insurance contribution payable on their behalf or any amount an employer is under an obligation to pay to a person as an employee, whether the obligation arose out of a contract of employment or by operation of a law (including operation of a law of any country) for the time being in force, and includes any claim arising under a manning and crew agreement relating to a vessel, notwithstanding anything contained in the provisions of sections 150 and 151 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958;
(p) disbursements incurred on behalf of the vessel or its owners;
(q) particular average or general average;
(r) dispute arising out of a contract for the sale of the vessel;
(s) insurance premium (including mutual insurance calls) in respect of the vessel, payable by or on behalf of the vessel owners or demise charterers;
(t) commission, brokerage or agency fees payable in respect of the vessel by or on behalf of the vessel owner or demise charterer;
(u) damage or threat of damage caused by the vessel to the environment, coastline or related interests; measures taken to prevent, minimise, or remove such damage; compensation for such damage; costs of reasonable measures for the restoration of the environment actually undertaken or to be undertaken; loss incurred or likely to be incurred by third parties in connection with such damage; or any other damage, costs, or loss of a similar nature to those identified in this clause;
(v) costs or expenses relating to raising, removal, recovery, destruction or the rendering harmless of a vessel which is sunk, wrecked, stranded or abandoned, including anything that is or has been on board such vessel, and costs or expenses relating to the preservation of an abandoned vessel and maintenance of its crew; and
Explanation. – For the purposes of clause (q), the expressions “particular average” and “general average” shall have the same meanings as assigned to them in sub-section (1) of section 64 and sub-section (2) of section 66 respectively of the Marine Insurance Act, 1963.
(2) While exercising jurisdiction under sub-section (1), the High Court may settle any account outstanding and unsettled between the parties in relation to a vessel, and direct that the vessel, or any share thereof, shall be sold, or make such other order as it may think fit.
(3) Where the High Court orders any vessel to be sold, it may hear and determine any question arising as to the title to the proceeds of the sale.
(4) Any vessel ordered to be arrested or any proceeds of a vessel on sale under this Act shall be held as security against any claim pending final outcome of the admiralty proceeding.
10. Order of priority of maritime claims
(1) The order of maritime claims determining the inter se priority in an admiralty proceeding shall be as follows:-
(a) a claim on the vessel where there is a maritime lien;
(b) registered mortgages and charges of same nature on the vessel;
(c) all other claims.
(2) The following principles shall apply in determining the priority of claims inter se-
(a) if there are more claims than one in any single category of priority, they shall rank equally;
(b) claims for various salvages shall rank in inverse order of time when the claims thereto accrue.
12. Application of Code of Civil Procedure
The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 shall apply in all the proceedings before the High Court in so far as they are not inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Act or the rules made thereunder.