Medical care not crime: Madras HC relief to Indonesian seaman

Saying the petitioner cannot be termed as criminal, the judge said continuation of the prosecution would only amount to abuse of process of law.

Published: 29th May 2022 05:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th May 2022 05:48 AM   |  A+A-

Madras High Court (File photo)

Madras High Court (File photo)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has ordered quashing of a case pending before a local court in Ponneri against an Indonesian seaman for entering Indian land without permission to receive medical treatment, and ordered his deportation to his native country.

Mohammed Zaenal Arifin, an engineer on South Korean ship MT Asian Grace, was held by the Central Industrial Security Force of Kamarajar Port in Ennore on September 3, 2021, for disembarking and visiting a local hospital for treatment without permission from immigration officials. 

Facing a case under Section 14 A (b) and 14 C of the Foreigners (Amendment) Act, he has been languishing at the Special Camp for Foreigners at Tiruchy since. After hearing his petition seeking permission to return to his country, Justice AD Jagadish Chandira recently ordered his deportation.“Taking into consideration the facts of the case and the submissions made by the counsel, further proceedings... are quashed,” the judge said.

He also directed the judicial magistrate to return the petitioner’s passport to Minjur police inspector, who, in turn, shall hand it to the petitioner. He ordered respondents, including immigration department authorities, to take expeditious steps to deport the seaman.

According to counsel, Mohammed Zaenal Arifin, engineer-2 of the ship, had to jump off the ship after he suffered bodily injuries in an altercation with engineer-1. He tried to get permission from authorities for stepping out of the port to get treatment but couldn’t succeed. Hence he moved out without permission and returned promptly after treatment.

The judge said technically it may seem the petitioner violated the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Foreigners Order, 1948, but taking into consideration the facts of the case, it was a life and death situation for him and in such circumstances, without understanding the legal consequences, he reached a nearby hospital for treatment in the earnest desire to save his life.

Saying the petitioner cannot be termed as criminal, the judge said continuation of the prosecution would only amount to abuse of process of law.


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