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Sri Lankan Fishermen Apprehended On Suspicion Of Involvement In Drug Cartel Denied Bail By Kerala HC

Navya Benny
28 Sep 2022 8:24 AM GMT
Sri Lankan Fishermen Apprehended On Suspicion Of Involvement In Drug Cartel Denied Bail By Kerala HC
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday denied bail to six Sri Lankan fishermen who had been apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard officials on suspicion that they are part of international drug cartels and had been involved in transporting the same at the time of apprehension.Justice Viju Abraham observed that there was "considerable force" in Special Public Prosecutor's argument that...

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday denied bail to six Sri Lankan fishermen who had been apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard officials on suspicion that they are part of international drug cartels and had been involved in transporting the same at the time of apprehension.

Justice Viju Abraham observed that there was "considerable force" in Special Public Prosecutor's argument that petitioners being nationals of Sri Lanka, there is every chance for them to abscond and their presence cannot be secured at the time of trial.

However, taking note that the petitioners herein, who are foreign nationals, had been in custody since 9th March, 2021 and that the Final Report had already been filed in the case, the bench directed to the trial court to expedite the trial and complete the same within 3 months.

Advocates Godwin Joseph, Sankara Manikandan R., and Naveen R. for the Petitioners argued that they are simple Sri Lankan fisherfolk and were en route their regular fishing activity when they were suddenly intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard. It is averred that no contraband was recovered from them.

It was submitted by the petitioners that they are only well-versed in Sinhala language but they were apprehended by the Coast Guard since they were unable to answer his questions in absence of a translator.

ASG and Central Government Counsels Rajagopalan Nair K.R. and Suvin R. Menon contended that the petitioners were on a mission to collect and transport 100 Kgs. of Hashish and 150 Kgs. of Methamphetamine from the high sea. It is claimed that Indian Coast Guard Officials are a witness to the acts conducted by the petitioners, and that the statements recorded could not amount to 'confession' by the accused. Other evidence such as call record details, their route map and others were also produced to fortify prosecution case.

It was further submitted that the petitioners, being part of international drug cartel dealing in bulk quantities of contraband and drugs, and being foreign citizens, there was every possibility of them being unavailable once bail had been granted.

The Case:

As per the prosecution case, the Indian Coast Guard Ship, INS Varaha, had intercepted a fishing boat , namely 'Akarsha Duwa', on board of which were 6 Sri Lankan nationals (the petitioners herein), on 7th March 2021. They were intercepted midsea in Indian waters, on the suspicion that they were carrying narcotic drugs. The petitioners were subsequently handed over to the Narcotics Control Bureau, Sub Zone at Vizhinjam on 8th March 2021, with a letter of the interception and the inventory. It was further alleged by the prosecution that the instant petitioners had admitted to carrying narcotic substances and drugs before the Intelligence Officer. 

The investigation was completed and the Final Report had been filed before the Investigating Officer on 31st August 2021, and the petitioners remain incarcerated since then.

Case Title: T. Sunil Kurera & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. 

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 503

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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