High court allows detained vessel to move out of Mumbai port till Cyclone Nisarga passes
The court on Tuesday heard an urgent application from the ship’s owners that was supported by Mumbai Port Trust, as it feared the 14-deck cruise ship could cause huge damage to the port if it was caught in the cyclone.Updated: Jun 03, 2020 13:27 IST
The Bombay high court has allowed a ship that is the subject of a suit to be moved out of its anchorage in Mumbai port, where it currently held under arrest, to safer waters till Cyclone Nisarga passes.
The court on Tuesday heard an urgent application from the ship’s owners that was supported by Mumbai Port Trust, as it feared the 14-deck cruise ship could cause huge damage to the port if it was caught in the cyclone.
The court allowed the vessel to be moved to safer waters on the condition that it is brought back to Mumbai port with the 63-member crew on board. MV Karnika has been detained at Mumbai port in lieu of a commercial admiralty suit.
The bench of justice AK Menon, while hearing the interim application filed by the owners of MV Karnika, was informed by advocate S Priya that the vessel would be impacted by cyclonic weather as the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s report of June 1 had indicated the path of Cyclone Nisarga lay across the Maharashtra coast.
Priya said MV Karnika may be impacted by the cyclonic weather in view of the sheer size of the vessel, and it may be damaged or run aground and probably cause immense damage to other vessels. This could result in MV Karnika also taking in water, with disastrous consequences.
The ship’s owners’ application sought permission for the vessel to go out of Mumbai port temporarily to safer waters, probably beyond the territorial waters while under arrest, and return after the cyclone has passed.
The Mumbai Port Trust also filed an application to move the vessel to safer waters. Advocate Deepak Motiwala, appearing for the port trust, said it was extremely risky to bring the vessel into berth because once alongside, the strong currents driven by the weather would in all likelihood damage the berth and property of the port and other vessels.
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He further said that considering the dimensions of the vessel, it would not be possible for any number of tugs to control the vessel.
After the plaintiffs in the suit, along with several caveators who have sought to recover Rs 30 crores from the vessel, agreed with the applications, the high court observed that MV Karnika and her crew and others must not be imperilled and must be permitted to leave for safer waters, as may be suggested by the port trust in consultation with the master of the vessel, in order to avoid the path of the cyclone.
The court then imposed several conditions, which include having a pilot of the port trust board and stay on the vessel till its return to Mumbai port. It also asked for the passports of the vessel’s three main officers to be deposited with the deputy conservator along with the certificate of registry and class certificate of the vessel.
The court also sought an undertaking from the owners of the vessel to ensure its return to Mumbai port. On compliance with these conditions, the court directed the port trust to allow the vessel to leave immediately after receiving the application to leave from the vessel.