Nov 20, 2020

Tribunals under The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 can be constituted only by notification in the Official Gazette by the Central Government. Tribunals are established when the Central Government thinks that any dispute exists or can arise between seamen or any class of seamen, or any union of seamen and the owners of the ship in which such seamen are employed or are expected to be employed. The disputed matter is related with or is incidental to the employment of such people. 

A tribunal consists of one or more persons, which the Central Government believes to be fit.


It has all the powers of a Civil Court for summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses, convincing the discovery and production of documents and substantial objects, administering the oath, issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses. Any other procedure which may be prescribed, and any proceeding before the Tribunal shall be deemed to be a Civil Court proceeding under Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860).

The Tribunal must dispose of the reference effectively and speedily and submit its award to the central government after concluding.


An award granted by this Tribunal is binding on all the parties to the dispute and where the owner of the ship is a party to the dispute, on his heirs, successors, or assignee. 

After the award has been granted, the Central Government publishes it, and it shall become 

valid only after expiration of thirty days of the publication of such award but If the Central Government thinks that it is imprudent for them on public grounds to enforce the award or any part of it, then the Central Government, through a notification in the Official Gazette, before the expiry of the thirty days may either modify or reject it and where the Central Government does so, the award shall not become enforceable or shall become enforceable subject to the modifications, as the case may be.

The award will remain in force for one year from the date of its enforceability. It shall remain enforceable until a period of two months has expired from the date of notice given by either of the parties bound by the award to other party or parties imitating its intent to terminate the award.

No party is entitled to appoint a legal practitioner during the proceeding unless the consent has been granted for the same by other parties or parties to the case.


  • No seamen or a group of seamen is authorized to go on a strike or to act unfavourably to the normal operation of the ships in which those seamen are employed or will be employed.
  • The owner of the ship should not punish any seamen regarding any matter related to the dispute.
  • The owner of the ship must not alter the prejudice of the seamen who are involved in the dispute, the conditions of service applicable to them immediately before the commencement of such proceedings.


Suppose the Tribunal thinks that any master, mate, or engineer is incompetent or has been found guilty of any act of drunkenness, misconduct, oppression, or could not assist in case of an accident. In that case, the Central Government can cancel their certificates.