Merchant Seamen (Litigation) Act 1946

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THE MERCHANT SEAMEN (LITIGATION)

ACT, 1946.

ACT No. XXI of 1946

( For Statement of Objects and Reasons, see Gazette of India, 1946, Pt. V, pp.129‑130; and for Report of Select Committee, see Ibid., pp. 181‑184.

This Act has been applied to Baluchistan, see Notification No. 336/8. P. G., dated the 26th November, 1946, Gazette of India, 1946, Pt. I, p. 1675.

It has been extended to the Leased Areas of Baluchistan by the Leased Areas (Laws) Order, 1950 (G. G. O. 3 of 1950).)

[23rd April, 1946]

An Act to provide for the special protection in respect of civil and revenue litigation of serving merchant seamen.

WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for special protection in respect of civil and revenue litigation of serving merchant seamen;

It is hereby enacted as follows:‑‑

1. Short title extent and commencement----‑(1) This Act may be called the Merchant Seamen (Liti gation) Act, 1946.

[(2) It extends to the whole of Pakistan.]( Subs. by the Central Laws (Statute Reform) Ordinance, 1960 (21 of 1960), s. 3 and 2nd Sch. (with effect from the 14th October, 1955), for the original sub‑section (2), as amended by A. O., 1949.)

**(3) Interpretation---**It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint.

2.‑----(1) In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,‑

(a) "agreement" means articles of agreement entered into by a seaman whereby he engages himself to serve on board a sea‑going ship;

(b) "Court" means a Civil or Revenue Court;

(c) "master" means a person, other than a pilot or harbour master, having command or charge of a sea‑going ship;

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

(e) "proceeding" includes any suit, appeal or application;

(f) "seaman" means every person, other than a person subject to naval law, who is employed or engaged under an agreement on board any sea‑going ship in any capacity, other than that of pilot or apprentice but including that of master;

(g) "shipping master" means, in relation to any seaman, 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 (Subs. by the Central Laws (Statute Reform) Ordinance, 1960 (21 of 1960), s. 3 and 2nd Sch. (with effect from the 14th October, 1955), for "the Provinces and the Capital of the Federation" which had been subs, by A. O., 1949. for "British India".)[Pakistan], for the port to which the seaman has returned, or is expected to return, on the completion of his latest voyage,

and includes a deputy shipping master or any person carrying out the functions of d shipping master.

(2) For the purposes of this Act a seaman shall be deemed to be a serving seaman during any period commencing on the date on which he enters into an agreement and ending thirty days after the date on which he is finally discharged from such agreement.

**3. Particulars to be furnished in plaints, etc-----**If any person presenting any plaint, application or appeal to any Court has reason to believe that any adverse party is a serving seaman, he shall make a statement accordingly in the plaint, application or appeal.

**4. Power of collector to intervene in case of unrepresented seaman----**If any Collector has reason to believe that any seaman who ordinarily resides or has property in his district and who is a party to any proceeding pending before any Court, is unable to appear therein or is a serving seaman, the Collector may certify the facts in the prescribed manner to the Court.

5. Notice to be given in case of unrepresented seaman---‑(1) If a Collector has certified under section 4, or if a Court has reason to believe, that a seaman who is a party to any proceeding before the Court, is unable to appear therein or is a serving seaman, the Court shall suspend the proceeding and shall give notice thereof in the prescribed manner to the shipping master:

Provided that the Court may refrain from suspending the proceeding and giving the notice‑‑

(a) if the proceeding is one instituted or made by the seaman, alone or conjointly with others, with the object of enforcing a right of pre‑emption, or

(b) if the interests of the seaman in the proceeding are, in the opinion of the Court, either identical with those of any other party thereto and adequately represented by such other party, or merely of a formal nature.

(2) If it appears to the Court before which any proceeding is pending that a seaman though not a party to the proceeding is materially concerned in the outcome of the proceeding and that his interests are likely to be prejudiced by his inability to attend, the Court may suspend the proceeding and shall give notice thereof in the prescribed manner to the shipping master.

6. Postponement of proceedings----‑(1) If on receipt of a notice under section 5, the shipping master certifies to the Court in the prescribed manner that the seaman is a serving seaman, the Court shall thereupon postpone the proceeding in respect of the seaman for the prescribed period, or if no period has been prescribed, for such period as it thinks fit:

Provided that if by reason of the continued absence of the seaman the question of any further postponement of the pro ceeding in respect of the seaman arises, the Court shall in deciding the question have regard to the purposes of this Act.

(2) If the shipping master either certifies that the seaman is not for the time being a serving seaman or fails within two months from the date of the receipt of the notice under section 5 to certify that the seaman is a serving seaman, the Court may, if it thinks fit, continue the proceeding.

7. Power to set aside decree and orders passed against serving seaman----‑(1) Where in any proceeding before a Court a decree or order has been passed against any seaman while he was a serving seaman, the seaman, or if he dies while he is a serving seaman, his legal representative, may apply to the said Court to have the decree or order set aside, and if the Court, after giving an op portunity to the opposite party of being heard, is satisfied that the interests of justice require that the decree or order should be set aside as against the seaman, the Court shall, subject to such conditions, if any, as it thinks fit to impose, make an order accordingly, and may, if it appears that any opposite party in the proceeding has failed to comply with the provisions of section 3, award, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, damages against such opposite party.

(2) The period of limitation for an application under sub section (1) shall be sixty days from the date on which the sea man first ceases to be a serving seaman after the passing of the decree or order, or where the summons or notice was not duly served on the seaman in the proceeding in which the decree or order was passed, from the date on which the applicant had know ledge of the decree or order, whichever is later; and the provisions of section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1908, shall apply to such applications. IX of 1908

(3) Where the decree or order in respect of which an applica tion under sub‑section (1) is made is of such a nature that it cannot be set aside as against the seaman only, it may be set aside as against all or any of the parties against whom it was made.

(4) Where a Court sets aside a decree or order under this section, it shall appoint a day for proceeding with the suit, appeal or application, as the case may be, in respect of which the decree or order was passed.

**8. Modification of law of limitation where seaman is a party-----**In computing the period of limitation provided in this Act or in the Limitation Act, 1908, or in any other law for the time being in force, for any suit, appeal or application to a Court to which a seaman is a party, the period or periods during which the seaman has been a serving seaman, and if the seaman has died while he was a serving seaman, the period from the date of his death to the date on which his next of kin was first informed, by the shipping master or otherwise, of his death, shall be ex cluded:

Provided that this section shall not apply in the case of any suit, appeal or application instituted or made with the object of enforcing a right of pre‑emption except in such areas and in such circumstances as the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, specify in this behalf.

**9. Reference in matters of doubt to shipping master----**If any Court is in doubt whether, for the purposes of section 7 or section 8, a seaman is or was at any particular time or during any particular period a serving seaman, it may refer the question to the shipping master, and the certificate of the ship ping master shall be conclusive evidence on the question.

  1. The Central Government, after consulting the High Courts concerned, may by notification in the official Gazette make rules to provide for all or any of the following matters, namely

(a) the manner and form in which any notice or certificate under this Act shall be given;

(b) the period for which proceedings or any class of proceed ings shall be postponed under sub‑section (1) of sec tion 6;

(c) the conditions subject to which damages may be award ed under sub‑section (1) of section 7, and the amount of such damages;

(d) any other matter which is to be or may be prescribed, and generally, any matters incidental to the purposes of this Act.

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