Meaning of India :
“India” means the territory of India as referred to in article 1 of the Constitution, its territorial waters, seabed and sub-soil underlying such waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone or any other maritime zone as referred to in the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Maritime Zones . Act, 1976, and the air space above its territory and territorial waters – section 2(56) of CGST Act.
Definition of ‘India’ is wide. It covers all landmass of India plus 200 nautical miles inside the sea, sea bed and air space above land and territorial waters.
Territorial waters – Section 3 of the ‘Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Maritime Zone Act, 1976’ specifies that territorial water extend upto 12 nautical miles from the base line on the coast of India and include any bay, gulf, harbour, creek or tidal river. (1 nautical mile = 1.1515 miles = 1.853 Kms). Sovereignty of India extends to the territorial waters and to the seabed and subsoil underlying and the air space over the waters.
In British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd. v. Shanmughavilas Cashew Industries (1990) 3 SCC 481, it was held that a statute extends to territory, unless the contrary is stated, throughout the country and will extend to the territorial waters and such places as intention to that effect is shown. – . – Indian Parliament has no authority to legislate for foreign vessels or foreigners in them on the high seas. – quoted with approval in World Tanker Carrier Corpn v. SNP Shipping Services P Ltd. 1998(3) SCALE 165 (SC 3 member bench).
Exclusive Economic Zone – ‘Exclusive economic zone’ extends to 200 nautical miles from the base-line. In this zone, the coastal State has exclusive rights to exploit it for economic purposes like constructing artificialb islands (for oil exploration, power generation etc.), fishing, mineral resources and scientific research. However, other countries have right of navigation and over-flight rights. Other countries can lay submarine cables and pipelines with consent of Indian
Government. Such consent may be declined for protecting interest of India. Section 7 of Territorial Waters – . – . – . – Act, 1976 has made similar provisions and thus, these provisions have been adopted in India too.
Beyond 200 nautical miles, the area is ‘High Seas’, where all countries have equal rights. These high seas are reserved for peaceful purposes. Any Country can use it for navigation, over-flight, laying submarine cables and pipes, fishing, construction of artificial islands permitted under international law and for scientific research.
Continental Shelf – ‘Continental shelf’ is an area of relatively shallow seabed between the shore of a continent and the deeper ocean. [Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1990 edition].