My thoughts on the Discretionary Powers conferred on shipmasters by SOLAS
Hello Sir. So, a nice self-examining post. The risk assessment for a new, upcoming event, huh?
Anyways, to help matters, let me just cross it a little bit, and that would also make the exercise a little more interesting,:-
It seems to me that the theories on Security systems and policing are based on the lines that an innocent man has nothing to fear and therefore nothing to hide.Infact it is as much possible and easy, a child's play, to create scenarios whereby not having an open system AIS-system could also be shown to be leading to incidents.Yes, anyone can do that.
But as i say the premise of secuirty and therefore the allied businesses in today's world is coming from the point - nothing-to-fear-and-hide, and thus the transperency demand; opacity is being dispensed away with, unless it can be sufficiently proven that opacity is severly needed to help the matters.
Private spaces have already been breached. From mobile phones cameras, to security cameras, to the frisking activity, to the human body scanners at airport, to evesdropping by police...where is the private space left?!?! And that's what the modern world is.It is very important to amend the mental understanding of such issues these days to soothen our own selves and adapt better.
I say that the word "disceretion" is another most misunderstood concept in Indian minds. We believe it is some unlimited, unquestionable power which cannot be challenged!
It is one very important place where the government and sea-farer's education systems should do maximum amends to bring about erradication of arguments from many of those poeple who ask "Making the master responsible is making a scape goat of him,( OR else make Discretiionery Powers unquestionable) ."
Discretion, in law is understood as something very basic of a decision making, without which human life cannot move. We all have some kind of discretionery powers for our day-to-day works too: for e.g What time you slept and Why only that, What colour you like and why only that,..etc.
Surely these are very much personalised decisions and we would not like anyone to question us about it. Same way, the SOLAS accords this power to masters only on matters related to Secuirty and Safety. For others matters it expects an already document plan on which the masters should act. The catch is that the masters, who are coming from un-powerful("powerless", candidly telling,) rural (and/or subservient) background see this as an issue of authority to impose oneself on another and thereby exericse the 'discretionary powers' without sufficient exploring the other paths (which in truth also exist for most the secuirty and safety related matters as well,) or may be strong rigid grounds for exercising the power. If the situation demanding the use of Discretion can be broken down to so simple question where discretions can be easily applied than they can survive the onslaught on law after they have exercised it.
But the practical scenario is that most cases demanding discretion cannot be broken down easily--in the limited time,rescource,space -situation when masters have to do this. thus, they slip away doing what is their cultural practice or I say --a cultural error..or wrongfully acting away.
Masters and infact all officers and officers-in-making should, right from their training years, begin to understand that indeed in the big legal world out there, no body takes 'responsibility' or leaves his bill "unclaused and clean". They necessarily put some clause or constraint on it. Then, why should a Master or any other officer ever demand or bother or take efforts to apply discretion whereby he takes away the 'responsibilty' or calling something that he did on his own accord, to be the right thing!!! It is very important that all seafarers and management thinkers begin to take notice of the point that in modern world actions happen on 'advise' from somebody or something while that somebody claims not to assume any responsibilty for the correctness of his advise for every case! therefore, there exist a confusion and wise men shuold let the confusion prevail instead of making it one side tilted platter by putting the weight of an exercised-discretion!
With this approach it will be more convenient to face the law than when trying to prove that one's sense of discretion on fundamental matters is better than most others.!
The openess or providing info on net for AIS systems may not be as much hazardous, if we can recall well the final say on that basic debate of school year "Science a good master or a good slave". Well, i remember that the most appealing answer was that:- it's the man's sense of morality that should be questioned, and not the science.
A deep thought on these line-- and i guess it can quench most of the arguments and clashes of our mind.