A petition has been filed before the Kerala High Court against the further detention of 14 Pakistani and four Iranian fishermen who were allegedly involved in the Iranian dhow capture case, in the Poojappura central prison.
The Indian Navy had arrested the Pakistani and Iranian fisheremen for illegally entering India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in an Iranian dhow. Later the Ernakulam Judicial Magistrate Court had acquitted them in the case.
In a habeas corpus petition, seafood exporter Joseph Varghese of Cherthala submitted that they continued to be in the jail though the court had acquitted them of all charges.
The Pakistanis and Iranians were fishing in the internal waters in a fishing vessel Al Javedi when it was detained by the Indian Navy in December 2010. They were taken to Lakshadweep and handed over to the police.
The Kavarathi police registered a case against the fishermen under section 12 of the Passport Act and sections 3 and 14 of the Foreigners Act and section 7 and 14 of the Maritime Zone of India(Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act. One among the fishermen on board was juvenile and was later deported.
The Kavarathi police did not find any incriminating materials against the accused. They filed a final report before the Ernakulam Judicial First Class Magistrate-I dropping charges under the Passport Act and Foreigners Act but chargesheeted them under the Maritime Zone of India Act.
Meanwhile, the Government of India dropped charges against the four Iranian nationals following which the court acquitted them.
Later the Pakistanis were also acquitted. The accused were taken back to prison from the court to complete the formalities but they were never released. The detention of he accused despite the court of law acquitting them amounts to illegal detention, the petition pointed out.