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Gujarat High Court Directs Arrest of Unmanned Defendant Vessel on Account of the Poor Financial Condition of the Owner

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The Court heard the learned Advocate for the plaintiff and observed that the vessel was kept unmanned at Deendayal Port and wages were not paid by the owners to the plaintiffs’ no. 1 to 15, and hence directs the arrest of the Defendant Vessel until further orders.

Submissions before the Court

Plaintiff’s Submissions

Learned Advocate Ms Paurami Sheth, appearing for the plaintiff submitted that the plaintiff nos. 1-15 were the Indian seafarers employed on board of the Defendant vessel M.V. “Coromandel Supporter III” and also continued to work there while it was abandoned by her owner KeiRsos Maritime Ltd. The Defendant vessel and her owner were insured with the plaintiff no. 16 P&I Insurance, but plaintiffs no. 1 to 15 were not paid wages, while the Defendant’s vessel was being abandoned, and hence they had executed a Deed of Subrogation cum Assignment, Deed of Release cum Indemnity, Notice of Assignment and Receipt in favour of plaintiff no. 16 under which the claim of plaintiff nos. 1-15 in respect of the money paid to them as per the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour) Rules 2016 was subrogated and assigned to plaintiff no. 16. The Defendant’s vessel was presently kept unmanned at Deendayal Port and due to owners’ poor financial condition, he failed to provide the essential supply of stores and wages to the crew and also to repatriate them to their residential address, constituting an abandonment of Defendant Vessel as per the Merchant Shipping Rules 2016. 

She further submitted that the registered owner of the Defendant Vessel was KeiRsos Maritime Ltd., when the claim of the Plaintiffs arose and the plaintiffs were entitled to file Admiralty proceedings against the Defendant’s vessel as per Section 5 of The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017 concerning their wages and other payments being maritime claim and lien under Section 4 (o) & (w) read with Section 9 of the same Act.

Plaintiff’s Prayers

By operation of law, Plaintiff no.16 was entitled to recover the wages, supplies, and repatriation costs as a maritime lien and claim against the Defendant’s vessel and for this purpose, the plaintiffs were constrained to file the present suit and had prayed for the arrest of the Defendant Vessel.

Moreover, it was also submitted that Plaintiff No. 16 expected to execute the necessary releases with other 2 crew members, Sreemugi Pethaperumal (Engineer) and Jeewan Jasnyal (Cook) who had also not been able to receive their wages and therefore prayed for leave under Order II Rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, to omit to sue concerning the same and include their claim in the present proceedings.

Court’s Directions

Upon hearing Ms Paurami Sheth, Learned Advocate for the plaintiff and perusing the plaint herein signed on 02.03.2021, filed by the Advocate for the plaintiff and the affidavit of Mr Raju Desai, authorized representative of the plaintiff and upon the Plaintiff giving a written undertaking to the Registrar to pay a sum by way of damages as this Court may award as compensation, it was henceforth, ordered that the Registrar of this Court may issue a warrant for the arrest of the Defendant Vessel M.V. “COROMANDEL SUPPORTER III” along with her hull, engines, tackles, bunkers, machinery, plant, furniture, equipment and all appurtenances lying at Deendayal Port, Kandla within the Indian territorial waters and it was further ordered that the Port Officer and the Customs Authorities at Deendayal Port do effect the arrest or detention of the said Defendant Vessel. 

Moreover, in the event of the defendant and those interested in her, must deposit in this Court the principal amount of INR 42,93,784 together with costs aggregating INR 57,93,784 with interest at 12% p.a. from the date of filing of the suit till its payment and realization thereof as per the particulars of the claim.

The Port Officer and the Customs Authorities at Deendayal Port, Kandla were directed to arrest that Defendant Vessel and to keep it under arrest until further orders. Looking at the present situation, the Registry was directed to send this order to Port and Customs at Deendayal Port, Kandla through email, and the Authorities at Deendayal Port, Kandla shall act on an Email copy of the order and take it under arrest.

Notice to Defendant will be returnable on 30.03.2021. It was made clear that it will be open for the defendant to approach this Court anytime. The Plaintiffs were also granted leave under Order II Rule 2 of the CPC 1908, to omit to sue concerning the dues of Sreemugi Pethaperumal (2nd Engineer) and Jeewan Jasnyal (Cook) and include their claim in the present proceedings when they would receive their wages and execute the necessary documents in favour of Plaintiff No. 16. 

Click here to read the interim order. is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgment from courts. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can subscribe to our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

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