HC directive to airlift sailor from merchant ship - The New Indian Express

HC directive to airlift sailor from merchant ship

Published: 25th December 2012 12:12 PM

Last Updated: 25th December 2012 12:12 PM

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Coast Guard Western Region to initiate immediate steps to airlift a Kochi-based sailor on board a vessel-MT Prathibha Bheema bound for Singapore and give treatment in a hospital in Goa. The ship is in the outer anchorage near Goa.

A Division Bench comprising Justice P N Ravindran and Babu Mathew P Joseph issued the directive while considering a habeas corpus petition filed by Thomas Varghese of Chembumukku here against the illegal detention of his son Arun George Thomas by the Prathibha Shipping Company, Mumbai. The court suo motu impleaded the Western Command, Mumbai, as the additional respondent in the case.

The petitioner argued that his son, an engineer, was offered a job as second engineer in Pratibha Bheema. He went to the United Arab Emirates for joining the vessel on November 27, 2012.  After boarding the vessel and taking the rounds of engine room, he was shocked to see that the ship was not at all seaworthy.

Most of the machines were not working and it would be totally unsafe to sail to Singapore, the next destination. He declined to join the ship and informed the chief engineer. But the captain of the ship threatened him saying that he is not having a UAE visa and he will be arrested by the armed forces of the UAE Police as an illegal immigrant. Thus he was forced to join the ship. Immediately, he sent a resignation letter to the company. The company ensured that he would be released in the Khawr Fakkan Anchorage, UAE, as the approval of the company was received by the captain. But he was not released and started journey to Singapore on December 6 with the assurance that he would be relieved at the next port.

Before starting to Singapore, He communicated the petitioner through phone about the unworthiness of the vessel for taking such a voyage and the rude behaviour of the captain of the ship. On December 18, he was shocked to receive a scanned copy of the letter sent by his son. Arun Thomas Varghese, the petitioner’s son fell in the ship on December 14 while taking rounds in the ship. He fell and his knee cap, lower back and head hit the metal frames, pipes and floor of the engine room and was severely injured.

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