New Delhi: The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) has been set up by Ministry of Shipping to secure release of Indian sailors held captive by Somalian pirates and it is coordinating with UN bodies.
In an affidavit filed by Ministry of External Affairs, the Centre said all concerted efforts are being made for securing early release of sailors.
"Ministry of Shipping has set up an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) headed by its Additional Secretary in order to address, coordinate and deal with all matters pertaining to the hostage crisis arising out of piracy and hijacking at sea," it said.
It said the Directorate General of Shipping, under the Ministry of Shipping, is the nodal organisation with regard to welfare of Indian crew onboard ships and it has already started a grievances redressal mechanism for seafarers in 2011.
The affidavit said that the Ministry of External Affairs, through its Indian Missions abroad, continuously seeks the help of the foreign governments concerned and recently, High Commissioner of India in Nairobi wrote a letter to the President of Puntland state of Somalia.
It said that Centre has prepared a comprehensive Piracy Bill, 2012 in consultation with different ministries to deal with the issue of pirates in international waters.
"The protocol, procedure and process followed by the Government of India in such cases fall within jurisdiction of the Directorate General of Shipping. The Ministry of External Affairs has requested the concerned Ministry of Shipping to provide their inputs," the affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed in compliance of apex court order directing the Centre to file its response on two PILs seeking direction to government to take steps for early release of sailors.
The petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Rajni Singh, the wife of an Indian seamen held hostage by Somalian pirates, had said on September 28, 2010, the pirates had hijacked a vessel, MV Asphalt Venture, which was managed by Mumbai-based OMCI Ship Management Pvt Ltd.
It had alleged that due to the "lackadaisical approach" of the government, an Indian citizen was killed by Somalian pirates.