27 July 2021 8:52 AM GMT
The Ministry of External Affairs has informed the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that the five Indian seafarers who are said to be stranded in Iran have been provided with assistance of Indian Mission and assured the Court that necessary assistance will be provided to them under the law. The development came while Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a plea moved by families of the seafarers,...
The Ministry of External Affairs has informed the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that the five Indian seafarers who are said to be stranded in Iran have been provided with assistance of Indian Mission and assured the Court that necessary assistance will be provided to them under the law.
The development came while Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a plea moved by families of the seafarers, stranded in Iran even after their acquittal in a conspiracy case by an Iranian Court. They had sought for directions on the Ministry of External Affairs to take up the issue with Iran Government and repatriate them.
During the course of hearing, Advocate Harsh Vaidyanathan appearing for the Ministry apprised the Court that the decision of the trial court has been reversed by the Iranian Supreme Court and therefore the ground of acquittal raised by the petitioners does not stand.
"As of today, the ground raised by them on the point of acquittal no longer stays," he submitted.
"All five of them have been in touch with the Indian Mission and have been lodged in a hotel and provided access to telephone. Next step is going to be taken accordingly," Vaidyanathan added.
On the other hand, Advocate Gurinder appearing for the petitioners refuted the said stand by arguing that the Seafarers have been put in a hostel and not a hotel.
He therefore pressed upon three limited prayers i.e. whatever legal resource available in law must be provided to them and a legal counsel must be assigned to them for the purpose of representation; that passports and other relevant identification documents must be provided to them to show that they are Indian citizens and that a letter must be issued by the MEA to them saying that they are Indian citizens.
Hearing the aforesaid submissions, Court sought status report in the matter and posted the matter for further hearing on October 7.
The brief facts of the case are that the five seafarers were given job assurance in UAE, however, they were taken to Iran wherein they were made to join a Cargo vessel and perform menial duties.
On a raid conducted in the vessel by Iranian authorities in February last year, the Captain along with the aforesaid Seafarers came to be arrested and were charged with conspiracy to smuggle narcotics in deep sea. Subsequently, the owner of the vessel was also arrested.
It is the case of the petitioners that the Trial Court had acquitted all the seafarers on March 9 this year, however, the Iranian authorities refused to hand over their passports and continuous discharge certificates despite them languishing behind the bars for 403 days.
It is also the grievance of the petitioners that the matter is allegedly transferred to the Supreme Court of Iran, however, they have not been informed as to when it is likely to be finally decided.
"That while the matter has still not been decided by the Supreme Court of Iran, the Seafarers are in a limbo. They are not only stranded in Iran, they have no source of income. They have not and cannot get any employment in Iran. Being without a roof to live under and penniless with no source or even hope of income they have to beg and borrow," the plea states.
The plea also places reliance on representations made to the Ministry of External Affairs and Embassy of India in Tehran and also on a video message dated July 10, 2021 requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter.
"Till date, the Government of India and more particularly the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy in Tehran have not taken any steps to provide any assistance, financial or legal whatsoever to them which they were entitled to, being Indian Citizens. The long ordeal and waiting has taken a toll on both mental and physical well-being of these five Seafarers," the plea states.
Case Title: SHAM NATHURAM YENPURE & ORS v. UOI