India has established itself amongst biggies like USA and Russia when it comes to Space Projects. It has been so since inception but the recent milestone where in 2017 February where it launched over 100 satellites in space signals commercialization and is probably the result of India proving its mettle when it comes to cost friendly space projects. The monumental launch of Chandrayaan in 2004 and the cost friendly mangalyaan(mars orbiter Mission) which was made at just 11% of the cost at which USA made its Maven Mars Orbiter- Maven cost around $ 672 million while mangalyaan cost $74 million only paved the path to other nations taking notice of India’s prowess in Space. With Mangalyaan, India did achieve many other feats, one of being the fourth space agency after Soviets, Nasa and the ESA and the second to enter the orbit in its first attempt historically behind ESA.
Hence, saying that India is already at par with space giants like Soviet and NASA wouldn’t be wrong. Now looking at not only these giants but countries like Germany, Netherlands, Ukraine and Canada as far as legal framework is concerned, there’s no denying that they are well aware about the need for space law and have cemented it meticulously.
Yes, there are five international treaties already brought into force by the United Nations. While India has only signed one treated it has ratified the other four. It has been around four decades since India’s space journey started but it is yet to do the enactment over it. Though polices determined by the constitution of India as well as the satellite communications policy and even while our articles numbered 51 and 73 do show their respect for international treaty obligations and law for preservation of peace and security internationally, India is yet to create or obligate it legally.
It is time that the government of India which presently supervises the ISRO seriously thinks about revising the space laws in the country as it is slowly moving to self-sufficiency. It is already into outsourcing but only to a certain degree like component manufacture and the recent move to outsource manufacture of satellite to the private sector. Besides it has also signed a treaty with a private startup for launch of a spacecraft that will attempt a moon landing. This is sure going to help ISRO to focus on more important projects. Hence, the need of space law that is user friendly and is in the interest of both the government as well as the operator whenever liabilities arises due to damage.
Take the case of the international dispute between India and Japan over an Indian satellite on its way back to earth with debris over a Japanese village. As per the treaty for International Liability for damage caused by Space objects signed in the year 1972, India has to pay the compensation for it but there is not international space law that can help determine the quantum of damage.
Lastly, Space has also turned out to be of significance to 21st century warfare and hence considering the advantage India can get in a space war strategy or security planning, it does become important to consider devising and bringing space law into effect.