Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act
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This article is written by Utkarsh Singh, a law student from Amity Law School, Noida. This is an exhaustive article that deals with provisions regarding the Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925. 


Have you ever wondered which Act controls the regulation of the smooth flow of your goods and transportation of passengers? The Act is Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925 and it is contained in the Indian Bills of Lading Act, 1956. The Act of 1925 is extended to the whole of India. Before the invention of airplanes, the transportation and exportation of goods out of India was done through ships, as the earth has seventy percent of seawater and humans from the beginning used ships for export and import. When the Britishers came to India, firstly they only came for the export and import business using the ships, this tells us that ships were important from the very beginning. As this was an important aspect of trade business so they made an Act which says that the liability, responsibility, and rights of goods starts when the vessel is being loaded and till when the goods in the vessel is unloaded. This law also restricts people to export or import illegal goods, and here at every step, the quality of the goods is checked. The carrier will not be liable if the quality of the good is poor before the loading of the consignment has been started. Contract which is made for carrying goods by the ship in sea whether it is loading or handling comes under the rules of “responsibility and liability”.

Laws governing carriage of goods in India

In this time of online marketing, the transfer of goods or products from one place to another is very important as one can get anything at their doorstep all because of the smooth functioning of the carriages in India. For moving the goods from one place to another one has to enter into a carriage contract. When a person, company, or a group of people transfer goods from one place to another then they are called carriers. The goods can be transferred through the mediums: land, water, and air. 

The laws for moving goods from one place to another by land are as follows:

The laws for transporting goods from one place to another by air are as follows:

The laws for transporting goods from one place to another by sea are as follows:

When a situation comes that there is no particular law for a case then the Indian judiciary refers to the common English law, to solve the disputes or case.

Cases regarding carriage of goods

There are many cases and disputes related to the carriage of goods.

Cases related to Carriage by Road Act, 2007 are as follows- 

Maharashtra State Electricity Board vs. P.B. Salunke AIR 2009 Bom 185, in this case, a transformer was damaged in transportation from the trailer. The trailer did not have the capacity to carry the transformer. It was held that the carrier was negligent and he will be held liable.

In the case of Nagpur Golden Transport Co. vs. Nath Traders AIR 2012 SC 357, the issue was that would the transporter is liable for the damage of the products if he has given the damages done by transportation, it was held that the transporter will be held liable and pay the damages of the good else everything will stand unjustly enriched.

Some cases related to the Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act,1925 are as follows- 

Shipping Corporation. Of India Ltd. vs. Bharat Earth Movers Ltd.,(2008)2 SSC 79, in this case, the issue was the applicability between the Indian Act 1925 and the Japanese act 1992. It was held that the Indian Act will follow only in India, not outside the Indian ports.

In the case of British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. v. Shanmughavilas Cashew Industries, (1990) 3 SCC 481, the issue was the Indian law will be seen in the disputes if the shipped had sailed from the port of India, it was held that Indian law will be used when the ship starts its journey from the ports of India but it is starting from Africa and going to the ports of Cochin.

In the case of Contship Container Lines Ltd. & Co. Ltd. vs. D.K. Lall AIR 2010 SC 1704, the charter party contract was done between the buyer and the carrier, this made the charter liable in the delay of the shipment. It was held that there was the delay of the bill of lading which made the agent of the carrier guilty for the breach by this the agent and the shipowner both will be liable for the payment of the damages.

Carriage of goods by land

The Carriage by Road Act 2007 and the Railways Act, 1890, these are the two acts that govern the carriage of goods by land. The law which governs only the common carrier is the Carriage by Road Act. The Road Act came into force on 1st March 2011, this act defines the common carrier. A common carrier can be any individual, firm, or company which transports the goods from one place to another overland or inland waterways as a business for money. A private carrier is the one who moves the goods occasionally for the private work or for somebody else.

  • Carriage by Road Act, 2007

The Carriers Act, 1865 was nullified when the Carriage by Road Act came into force. The President’s assent on 29th September 2007 and was notified 1st October 2007, this Act came into force on 1st March 2011. “Carriage by Road Rules 2010” was drafted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and they put it on their website for comments. It is an activity mainly for the common carrier. The liability for losses of goods, or damage will be on the common carrier, if they are negligent or engage in criminal activity. This act extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. This act has 22 Sections.

  • Railway Act, 1989

Indian railways is the most important and commonly used public transport in India, millions of the people travel every day from this and transfer the goods from one place to another and the Railway Act, 1989 gives the responsibility and liability to the railways of the goods or the products which they are transporting. First, there was the Indian Railway Act, 1890 which was surpassed by this Act, The Railway Act, 1989 which came into force on 1st July 1990. The carriage of goods is in Chapter IX to Chapter XI which is Section 61 of the Railway Act, 1989 to Section 112 of the Railway Act, 1989. Some provisions under this act are- 

  • Every station of Indian railways has to maintain a rate book, which helps a person to know the price of the transportation of goods from one place to another. It should be provided at all times without any payment of any fee. This comes under Section 61 of the Railway Act, 1989.
  • The provision of the rate of risk is under Section 63 of the Railways Act, 1989. Any such goods that are entrusted with a railway administration for the purpose of carriage of goods will be at the risk rate of the railway administration. An exception to this provision when the carriage is at the risk rate of the owner and the responsibility for its own goods. Where the goods are at the owner’s risk rate as well as the railway’s risk rate, or no specific rate is opted the goods shall be deemed to be entrusted at owner risk rate.

Carriage of goods by air

There are some international authorities that govern the air carrier for injury or death of passengers, loss, or damages of the goods and losses due to delays in the international carriers of baggage and cargo. There are many international authorities but the Indian government ratified two of them only, namely Warsaw Convention 1929 which was amended by the Hague Protocol 1955 and this is given effect to by the Carriage by Air Act, 1972.

  • Carriage by Air Act, 1972

On May 15 the Carriage by Air Act, 1972 can be in force by taking place of the old Indian Carriage Act,1934. This Act came in force to give effect to-

  • The Warsaw Convention for the unification of particular rules which are of International Carriage By Air, 1929, amended as Hague Protocol.
  • The Montreal Convention which was signed on May 28, 1999.

The Warsaw Convention and Montreal Convention added a Schedule to the Carriage by Air Act.

Carriage of Goods by Sea

Sea transportation of the country is the most important part of export and import. It gives the structure, pattern and pace of development. The laws which regulate the Sea of India are the Indian Bills of Lading Act, 1856, the Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925, the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, and general laws, such as the Marine Insurance Act, 1963, the Contract Act, 1872, the Evidence Act, 1872, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the Companies Act, 1956, etc. The Ministry of Shipping is the authority in India which governs the shipment of the ship, in 2009 it was formed from the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways. The Carriage of Good by Sea Act is governed by the Bill of Lading, which tells the shipper the number of goods loaded, the quality of goods and many more things about the product which is on the deck.

  • Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1925

This Act has the Hague Rules which regulates everything including the bills of lading, the rights and liabilities of both the parties from any port of India to any other port of India or Outside India. At the starting of the journey, the carrier is bound to check each and everything like the cooling system so that the goods do not get any damage or everything is on the deck which he would need in the future according to the sea and the weather. Ship or the carrier is not responsible if anything happens to the goods due to the sea, the act of god, act of war, any circumstance which he could not foresee or any kind of riots but this act would not protect the carrier to be liable if he is negligent on his part, as the result he will be liable of the losses or damages that happen to the goods or products. Shippers or the carrier are not held liable if there is any mistake done by their servant or helper. If the product is destructive or explosive in nature and the carrier is not in possession of the goods and if the goods get destroyed in the middle then the shipper will be held liable for all the damages or losses to all the goods on the deck. The ship or the carrier can increase or decrease the liabilities and the immunities on their own.

Multimodal carriage of goods

The multimodal carriage of goods means that if the goods have to reach a place of the country where there is no direct way to reach then we use multimodal carriages that if something is imported by the ships and then it is getting transported by the train then it is called the multimodal carriage of goods. In short, using different types of medium to reach the final destination. The multimodal carriage system in India is governed by the Multimodal Transportation of Goods Act, 1993.

  • Multimodal Transportation of Goods Act, 1993

This Act was introduced for the exporters to give a feeling of security and it makes the price of the transportation less by which the product gets more competitive in the market. This act governs the multimodal transportation of goods in the whole of India and outside of India. The Section 2(k) of the Multimodal Transportation of Goods act, 1993 defines the definition of multimodal transportation, the section 2(m) defines the multimodal transport operator and the section 2(1)(a) tells about the multimodal transport documents.

Commercial Courts Act, 2015

This Act got it assent from the president on 31st December 2015 and came into force on the 23rd day of October 2015. This act came into force mainly to speed up the commercial cases in India and this helped the high court. The Commercial Courts Act, 2015, Section 3 gives the power to the state government to make a commercial court on the district level, it can be only made when the High Court has the ordinary civil jurisdiction and no ordinary original civil jurisdiction. Section 4 of this act gives the power of the chief justice of the High Court to make a bench of one or more judges for the functioning of the court.


In the Last, I conclude that the transportation of goods by sea or any other medium gives a court a pattern and pace of development. This transportation would not happen if there were no laws to govern them and solve the disputes of transportation. The Indian Carriage of Good by Sea Act gives the rights and liabilities to the transporter and owner of the product. These laws make the shipment reach safely to their final destination.


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