The Madras High Court on Friday ordered the “arrest” of oil tanker Pratibha Cauvery, which ran aground off the city coast during cyclone ‘Nilam’ two days ago.
Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar gave a direction to this effect while passing interim orders on a writ petition from Sankara Narayanan, the brother of sailor Anand Mohandoss who died while trying to flee the ship on a life boat.
He prayed for a direction to the fleet manager of the Mumbai-based Pratibha Shipping Company Limited, said to be owned by a close relative of Union Minister Sharad Pawar, to pay an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh for his brother’s death. Advocate S Prabakaran contended that Anand died of starvation. Sufficient food and water were not supplied to him and other crew members for over two months. Hence, he was too weak to swim to the shore, despite wearing a life jacket.
Anand joined the firm on May 18 on a four-month contract as Second Engineer. The vessel, carrying crude oil, left Mumbai and reached Chennai with 37 employees on board on September 25. After unloading the oil, it headed for Mumbai on September 29. But it was diverted back to Chennai on October 8 and kept in the outer anchorage till October 31.
Anand prayed the management to sign off his contract. He also sent representations to the authorities to save his and others’ lives. But there was no response, as the ship owner happened to be a close relative of the Union Minister, Prabakaran alleged. Of the 37 crew members, 22, including Anand, tried to escape on a life boat. But the boat sank as there was no fuel. Anand was taken to an Adyar hospital, where he was declared dead. Prabakaran prayed for a direction to the authorities to take action against the ship’s management.