19 Sep 2023 8:33 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court under its Admiralty jurisdiction, recently ordered the ‘arrest’ of ‘MT TSM Pollux’ a crude oil tanker bearing the Liberian flag (“offending vessel”) for allegedly damaging the twin marine loading unloading arms installed at Haldia Oil Jetty No.1 by its crane while leaving the Haldia docks. Court directed for the arrest order to be vacated in the event that...
The Calcutta High Court under its Admiralty jurisdiction, recently ordered the ‘arrest’ of ‘MT TSM Pollux’ a crude oil tanker bearing the Liberian flag (“offending vessel”) for allegedly damaging the twin marine loading unloading arms installed at Haldia Oil Jetty No.1 by its crane while leaving the Haldia docks.
Court directed for the arrest order to be vacated in the event that the ‘offending ship’ deposits a security amount of approx. Rs 88 crores with the Registrar (Original Side) in lieu of the prima facie damage which had been caused.
In adjudicating an ex parte urgent maritime claim made by the plaintiffs under Section 4 (1) (d) of the Admiralty (Jurisdictional and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017, a single bench of Justice Arindam Mukherjee observed:
The plaintiff says that the defendant on anticipating a huge maritime claim to be foisted against her for such negligent act is in hot haste trying to take away the vessel outside the jurisdiction of Haldia Port and that of this Court. After hearing the plaintiff and considering the materials on record, I have no reasons to disbelieve at this stage that the twin arm has been damaged due to acts of negligence on the part of the offending vessel. The plaintiff has been able to make out a strong prima facie case to go to trial. The Marshall of this Court is directed to forthwith arrest the said vessel along with tackle, hull, engine, equipment, apparels, furniture and all movable lying on board. In the event the defendant deposits an aggregate amount of USD 506,161 and Rs. 84,00,67,559/- in the suit as security, this order of arrest of shall stand automatically vacated.
Plaintiffs moved an urgent motion before Court for the arrest of the oil tanker, which they claimed was in a hurry to leave the Haldia docks anticipating the maritime claim which would be levied on it for the large-scale damage it had allegedly caused.
It was argued that the damaged oil jetty at Haldia docks had been inoperative, and broken in two parts, leading to not only loss of cost in acquiring new parts, but also costs of transportation, installation, and loss of future income, since it would take approximately one year for it to be operational again.
Plaintiffs claimed that they had spent USD 506,161 along with approx. Rs 57 crores in 2017 to acquire the ‘twin arm’, which had been damaged by the oil tanker. It was further claimed that the plaintiffs had generated an income of approx. Rs 83 crores by operating the oil jetty over the last year.
Plaintiffs prayed for the urgent arrest of the offending oil tanker, failing which it would take itself out of the Court’s jurisdiction.
In evaluating the plaintiff’s claims, the Court held that at the present stage it would be “fruitless” to examine negligence or contributory negligence in the matter, since once the vessel left the jurisdiction of the Court, it would render the plaintiffs cause of action infructuous.
Accordingly, in ordering the Court Marshall to forthwith arrest the vessel MT TSM Pollux pending payment of security, the Court directed for the present order to remain functional till 27th September along with an undertaking of the plaintiff that if the arrest of the defendant vessel was found to be unjustified, then the plaintiff shall remain liable to compensate the defendants.
Matter has been listed for further orders on 26th September.
Advocates for the plaintiff: Mr. K. Thaker, Ms. Tannya Baranwal, Mr. Prathamesh Kamat, Mr. Nooruddin Dhilla, Mr. Dharmesh Chauhan
Case: Hindustan Aegis LPG Limited Vs. The Owners And Parties Interested In The Vessel MT TSM POLLUX (Imo No. 9266889)
Case No: AS 5 of 2023
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