Protection of abandoned seafarers: HC directs Centre to file affidavit

The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to file an affidavit clearly stating the mechanism to protect abandoned seafarers.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 17, 2014, 00:22 AM IST

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to file an affidavit clearly stating the mechanism to protect abandoned seafarers.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, gave the direction on a plea by Secretary of Seafarers Port Welfare Association K Sreekumar who sought a directive to the Centre to establish a security system for abandoned seafarers, including supply of food, water and diesel to abandoned ships.

The court directed the Centre about the mode, manner and the quantum of corpus to be created to protect abandoned seafarers and to spell out its implementation pending approval of the ratification of an amended convention by India and gave four weeks time to submit an affidavit.

The petitioner also wanted creation of a fund from contributions from ships touching Indian ports for helping the affected seafarers and inspection of abandoned vessels by the Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) for their seaworthiness.

If a ship is found not seaworthy, the crew should be removed from it, the petitioner said.

In its counter, the Radio Inspector, MMD, said at a conference in Geneva on June 11 this year, amendments had been made to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention which addressed the issue of a specific mechanism for protecting abandoned seafarers and a new standard on financial security had been introduced.

A provision for financial security for assisting seafarers in the event of their abandonment had been specified.

The Bench observed there had been no ratification of this convention by India. All that had been stated was that the it was at an advanced stage. No estimated time period had also been provided.

The court pointed out that a linked issue was what should be the arrangement till the Convention was ratified and directed the authorities to file an affidavit and posted the matter for November seven.