Vindicating India’s stand, an international review panel has ruled that its crude tanker MT Desh Shanti, which was detained by Iranian authorities in August last, did not violate maritime rules.
The ruling by Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU), a grouping of 17 maritime nations, came on India’s appeal against the 26-day detention of the vessel by Iran.
India, which is part of IOMOU along with Iran and 15 other nations, had contended that the detention was in transgression of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other international pacts.
According to the Detention Review Panel of IOMOU, the vessel did not voluntarily reach the Iranian port.
“... the panel members unanimously agreed that the information provided indicates that the vessel (MT Desh Shanti) was not voluntarily in port, as such this should be considered as action by a coastal state under Article 220 and 224 of UNCLOS,” the IOMOU said in a communication to the Director General of Shipping.
Article 220 and 224 of UNCLOS relates to enforcement of international norms with regard to foreign vessels.
“The panel was, therefore, of the view that the inspection and detention should be removed from the IOCIS database by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” it said.
The Shipping Ministry received the communication last month.
Generally IOCIS (Indian Ocean Computerised Information System) database covers information related to vessels that have violated compliance norms of international maritime conventions in foreign ports.
Meanwhile, under the rules, the detention review panel would only consider the procedural and technical aspects of the port state control inspection based on the information provided by the flag state, their recognised organisation, and the port state.
India, in its appeal, had told the global body that the vessel on her “innocent” voyage from Basrah (Iraq) to Vishakhapatnam (India) was intercepted by Iranian navy on August 12 beyond its territorial waters and forcibly diverted towards Nowrouz oil fields and later coerced to anchor at Bandar Abbas port.
The vessel with a capacity to carry 1,40,000 tonnes of crude, belonging to Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), was held up on charges of pollution in August last year. After 26 days, it was released on September 6 after a letter of undertaking by SCI to the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organisation.
Refuting charges of pollution, India in its appeal had said that on the basis of satellite pictures of the alleged oil slick, MT Desh Shanti’s position was far away from the alleged site on the reported date.