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Image used for representational purposes.Express illustrations

Cocaine seizure: Orissa HC orders arrest of Panama vessel

PICT given liberty to serve warrant of arrest in course of next 24 hrs

CUTTACK: In an interim order pertaining to an admiralty suit for maritime claim recovery, the Orissa High Court on Friday ordered the arrest of a Panama registered cargo ship MV Debi anchored at Paradip.

Paradip International Cargo Terminal (PICT) had filed the admiralty suit for recovery of dues of Rs 7.95 crore towards berth and penal berth charges from MV Debi. PICT has a multipurpose berth at Paradip port on a build, operate, transfer (BOT) basis and operates a multipurpose clean cargo terminal catering to various customers.

The admiralty suit also sought arrest of the vessel for enforcement of maritime claim under the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017. Acting on it, Justice V Narasingh said, “PICT prima facie has been able to fortify its stand that the suit will be rendered infructuous unless the order to arrest the vessel is passed in exercise of the power of this court under section 5(1) of the Act, 2017. The defendant vessel MV Debi be arrested at Paradip Port.”

Justice Narasingh gave liberty to PICT to communicate the order along with letter of the marshal of the high court. The judge also gave PICT the liberty to serve the warrant of arrest in course of next 24 hours and posted the admiralty suit to March 7 for further consideration.

Starting from Egypt, MV Debi had reportedly arrived at Paradip via the Gresik port in Indonesia and was scheduled to leave for Denmark with steel plates.

But, 22 kg of cocaine was allegedly seized from the vessel on December 1, 2023. The vessel has since been stranded at Paradip.

As part of the proceedings, the Customs department had produced the seized contraband worth Rs 200-Rs 220 crore at the NDPS court in Kujang of Jagatsinghpur district. Subsequently, the NDPS court had sought security bond of Rs 100 crore and bank guarantee of Rs 10 crore from MV Debi for release of the vessel.

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