The Kerala High Court on Friday asked the superintendent of the Poojappura Central Prison to release four Iranians who were detained in prison even after the trial court had acquitted them in the dhow capture case.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Pius C Kuriakose and Justice P D Rajan issued the directive.
The court has directed officials to accommodate the Iranian nationals at a private hotel and keep them under surveillance.
The court issued the directive while considering a plea filed by the agent of the four Iranians and 14 Pakistan natives who were recently acquitted in a case related to the illegal entry of an Iranian dhow into India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a habeas corpus petition, seafood exporter Joseph Varghese of Cherthala, argued that the 18-member crew of the Iranian dhow are still lodged in Poojappura Central Prison, even after the Ernakulam Judicial First Class Magistrate-I had dropped charges against them. The vessel was detained by the Indian Navy in December 2010. The crew members were taken to Lakshadweep and handed over to the police. The Kavaratti police registered a case against the accused and later the Union Foreign Affairs Ministry asked the state to withdraw the case against the four Iranian nationals.
The court pointed out that the detention of the 18 foreigners, despite the court acquitting them, is illegal.
The court further directed the petitioner and the state to inform the court about arranging accommodation for the Pakistan nationals.