Stating that the Queen of Netherlands was entitled to diplomatic immunity, the Bombay high court dismissed a suit filed by a businessman claiming damages after his ship capsized in 1989.
Quashing the suit against the Queen and Union of India, justice RY Ganoo observed that besides diplomatic immunity, the original plaintiff SK Dhondy, proprietor of SK Dhondy & Company, which owned the vessel MV SKD-1, delayed in filing the petition.
On November 10, 1989, Dhondy had handed over the vessel to Dredging Corporation of India Limited for a period of 35 days.
During an operation at the port of Old Mangalore, the vessel had developed defects that needed repair work. Van Heerde, resident of Netherlands, was engaged to repair the vessel.
According to Dhondy, Heerde was appointed under a Bilateral Trade Agreement between India and Holland to attend to repairs concerning the said vessel.
However, the ship capsized on November 28, 1989.
Dhondy had alleged that the vessel capsized, as the repairs were not carried out in proper manner.
As Heerde was a “subject (citizen) of Netherlands”, the Queen of Netherlands is “answerable to plaintiff (Dhondy) in terms of damages”, claimed Dhondy.
During the pendency of the suit, Dhondy died and his son KS Dhondy became the proprietor of the firm and continued the suit against the Queen of Netherlands.
The Queen filed an application in 2004, seeking the dismissal of the suit stating it was made on “frivolous grounds”.