India petitions IOMOU to review detention of ship by Iran

Last Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 21:11

New Delhi: India has filed an appeal with the IOMOU, a grouping of 16 maritime nations, to review the 26-day detention of its crude tanker by Iran, which ended earlier this month.

The MT Desh Shanti, belonging to state-owned Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), was detained by Iran at Bandar Abbas Port last month on grounds of alleged pollution and was released on September 6.

"We have received an appeal from India`s maritime administration for review of the detention of its ship by Iran," an IOMOU official told PTI.

The official said the IOMOU was awaiting "full details" from the Shipping Ministry before proceeding with the appeal.

Asked if India plans to pursue legal action against Iran, Shipping Ministry officials refused to comment on the issue.

A provision of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) states that "the owner or operator of a ship will have the right of appeal against a detention to higher administrative authority or to the court of competent jurisdiction, according to the law in each country."

India and Iran, along with Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa, are members of IOMOU, one of nine regional port state control bodies set up at the behest of the International Maritime Organisation, with its secretariat in Dabolim, Goa.

A detention review panel, if set up, is likely to submit its report in a month, the IOMOU official said.

The vessel was detained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Persian Gulf on August 12 while carrying oil from Basrah in Iraq to Visakhapatnam, citing environmental and pollution concerns.

It was released after SCI, India`s largest shipping company, submitted a letter of undertaking to the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization.

India has assured Iran that it will "proceed against any violators, as per the Indian laws, if the evidence forwarded from your end justifiably warrants so."

India had strongly objected to the detention, saying it was a "colourable" exercise in transgression of UN convention on the Laws of the Sea and warned of serious ramifications.

India said the vessel was on an "innocent passage" and not voluntarily destined at any Iranian port. It was "forcibly diverted" to Iranian waters and subjected to inspection.

In a letter to Iran, India said port state control (PSC) is a legitimate mechanism to be utilised prudently and "any arbitrary enforcement of this well-established regime can have serious ramifications on the smooth conduct of international maritime transport..."

An SCI official said the ship is on its way to India and may reach in three to four days.


First Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 21:11

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