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Kerala High Court Orders Postmortem & DNA Test Of Seafarer Found In Tunisian Waters After Family Suspects Homicide

Hannah M Varghese
18 Jun 2022 6:45 AM GMT
Kerala High Court Orders Postmortem & DNA Test Of Seafarer Found In Tunisian Waters After Family Suspects Homicide

The Kerala High Court on Friday approved the request for a post-mortem and DNA test of the Indian seafarer whose body was found in Tunisian waters after his family raised suspicions of homicide in his death.

Justice V.G. Arun also suo moto impleaded the Director General of Police in the plea moved by the father of the 27-year-old seaman who went missing from his vessel.

"I find the request for post-mortem and DNA test to be well-founded. In the nature of the order being passed, the Director General of Police, State Police Headquarters, Vellayambalam, Thiruvananthapuram, is suo motu impleaded as the additional 7th respondent."

According to the petitioner, his son was employed in a merchant vessel. The plea contends that in his occasional calls, the petitioner's son allegedly informed them that he was being tortured mentally and physically by his supervisor and that in his last phone call, he informed the petitioner that he was going to report it to the higher authorities.

A week later, the petitioner was informed that his son had gone missing from the vessel in Tunisian waters. After repeated emails and phone calls, the Master's investigation report and the crew statements were finally forwarded along with photographs regarding the incident, it is alleged. Seeking a thorough investigation and urgent intervention into the matter by the Centre and diplomatic channels, the father moved the High Court.

Meanwhile, a body was found in the waters. After a DNA test, the body was identified as that of the seafarer. At the intervention of the Centre through its diplomatic channel, the Tunisian authorities agreed to repatriate the body to India.

Advocates Thushara James and Amal Darshan appeared for the petitioner and submitted that the body will reach Trivandrum Airport on 19.6.2022. It is submitted that the conversation which the petitioner had with his son before the unfortunate incident raises strong suspicion that the death itself could be a homicide. It was hence requested that, after the body reaches the Airport, post mortem and DNA test should be conducted.

The Court found force in this argument and directed the competent officer of the Centre to inform the Director General of Police or any other superior Police Officer about the arrival of the body at the Airport. Thereupon, necessary arrangements are to be made at the Airport to transport the body to the Medical College Hospital, Trivandrum.

When the body reaches the Medical College Hospital, the same is to be informed to the Director of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology and the post-mortem and DNA test should be conducted following due procedure.

The matter will be taken up one week later.

Case Title: Raveendran A v. Union of India & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 285

Click Here To Read/Download The Interim Order

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