KOCHI:The arrest of the 12 crew members of the Iranian vessel that was intercepted off the Alappuzha coast recently and the legal procedures initiated against them were beyond the jurisdiction of the police, submitted the National Investigation Agency (NIA) before the NIA Court here.
When the petition filed by the NIA for custody of the accused came up for hearing on Tuesday, the Investigation Agency tried all the legal provisions to convince the NIA Court on granting custody of the accused.
However, the attempts failed to bear fruit, and the court finally gave one more chance to the NIA to check whether there was any provision to send the accused to custody, after completing the initial remand period. The hearing of the petition was posted on Wednesday.
The NIA counsel submitted that interception of the Iranian vessel was an action that was beyond the jurisdiction of the Kerala State. According to the NIA, the jurisdiction of the State and Kerala Police is limited only upto 12 nautical miles, and beyond that it is the jurisdiction of the Government of India.
“The vessel was intercepted at a distance of around 58.5 nautical miles (about 108 km) off Alappuzha. Hence, the custody of the accused by the Kerala Police, after their arrest, cannot be taken into consideration. Only Central agencies have the authority to register case in connection with the incident,” stated the National Investigation Agency.
The court, meanwhile, pointed out that the crime was registered by the police as per the procedure. “The Government of India was informed about the matter later, and the investigation was rightly handed over to the NIA. The court sees nothing illegal about the procedures completed by the police,” held the court.
Then, the NIA came forward with various provision of the NIA Act and the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA). The NIA counsel also referred various Supreme Court and High Court ruling to convince the court.
NIA Judge K M Balachandran told the counsel that he understood the need for the agency to have the accused person in custody, but there should be proper legal provisions to permit it. He asked why the NIA could not interrogate the accused person in jail.
On this, the NIA counsel submitted that the accused persons had to be physically taken to various places, including the place where the vessel was intercepted. “Similarly, details of the calls made from the satellite phone, which was recovered from the accused, have to be collected,” stated the NIA.