New Delhi: Displaying seriousness to deal with piracy, the government on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha that provides for recognising it as a crime and lays down norms for prosecution of pirates apprehended by Indian authorities with punishment up to life term.

The Piracy Bill, 2012, has been brought as India does not have a separate domestic legislation on piracy and prosecution for piracy as a crime has not been included in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The bill, brought in the backdrop of rising incidence of piracy including within India's Exclusive Economic Zone, is aimed at bringing "certainty" and "clarity" in the law and provides sound basis for effective prosecution of pirates held by the Indian authorities irrespective of their nationalities.

The bill, moved by Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, provides punishment for an act of piracy, attempt to commit piracy and accomplice to piracy and has a provision for extradition of persons involved in an act of piracy.

It confers power on any gazetted officer of the central government or of a state government with powers of arrest of any person, investigation and prosecution exercisable by a police officer under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The legislation provides for setting up of designated courts for speedy trial of offences of piracy and territorial jurisdiction of each such court.

It provides for application of Code of Criminal Procedure in the proceedings before a designated court and provisions relating to bail of accused persons.

Whoever commits an act of piracy shall be punished with imprisonment for life except where the accused has caused death in committing the act of piracy or attempt thereof in which case he may be punished with death, according to the bill.

In addition, the designated court may also subject to any restitution or forfeiture of property involved in the commission of the offence.

Every person who is an accomplice to an act of piracy shall be liable on conviction to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 14 years and shall also be liable to fine.

The proposed law will extend to the exclusive economic zone of India.

"Given the increasing incidence of piracy, including within India's Exclusive Economic Zone and the increasing number of pirates apprehended by the Indian Naval forces, a need was felt for a domestic legislation on piracy which could provide the necessary legal framework within the country for prosecution of persons for piracy-related crimes," noted the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

Since 2008, a major spurt in attacks by pirates, particularly in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, has seriously affected the safety and security of maritime traffic and personnel plying between Asia and Europe and the east coast of Africa.

Due to enhanced naval presence in the Gulf of Aden, pirates have been shifting their area of operations eastwards and southwards and some piracy incidents have taken place close to India's Exclusive Economic Zone on its western coast.

The Indian Navy and Coast Guard have enhanced their vigil and successfully conducted several operations against pirates as a result of which a number of Somali pirates are presently in the custody of Indian police authorities.