State told to set up a large institute in Kochi

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the State Police Chief to conduct an inquiry in association with the Director-General of Shipping (DGS) into unrecognised marine technical courses being conducted by various institutes in the State and take appropriate action to close down such unauthorised institutes to prevent further exploitation of the student community.

The Bench comprising Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair and Justice C.K. Abdul Rehim also directed the DGS to find out under which authority various universities and National Council of Vocational Training (NCVT) were authorised to conduct marine courses without DGS approval of their syllabus and take appropriate action against such universities and other authorities concerned.

The court issued the order while dismissing an appeal filed by a private marine institute in Kochi. The appeal was filed against a single judge’s order rejecting the petitioner’s plea against the Ernakulam City Police Commissioner’s order restraining the petitioner-institute from conducting courses in Diploma in Marine Mechanical Fitter and Advanced Diploma in Marine Mechanical Fitter.

The court reiterated the need to have sufficient institutes with infrastructural and instructional facilities to coach and train desiring youngsters to train them for employment in ships which could be achieved by increasing the capacity of eligible institutes. The Bench also suggested that the government set up a large institute in Kochi for imparting courses in marine technology. Decrying the indifference of the State government, the court observed that the government did not utilise the facilities available in Kerala for imparting coaching to students to qualify them for employment in ships.

If the State government started such an institute, the Cochin Shipyard could render all assistances in giving training to students on board ships under construction and in ships reaching the yard for repairs, the Bench said

The court pointed out that the police had reported that the institutes in the State did not have any recognition from the DGS. The DGS informed the police that only three institutes — one run by the CUSAT and another by Cochin Shipyard and the third by M/s Euro Tech Maritime Academy — had got approval from the DGS for running the course.

According to DGS, continuous Discharge Certificate or Seafarer’s Identity Document issued by the DGS under the Merchant Shipping (Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers) Rules, 1988 prescribed under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, was a mandatory document required for those passing out of these institutes for employment in an ocean going vessel or ship.

Even though Cochin Shipyard and CUSAT were running institutes with DGS approval, probably the number of students who could be trained might be very limited. This had led to opening of such unauthorised institutes who exploited the youth by luring them with misleading advertisements, the court observed.

The Bench also prohibited these institutes from advertising with pictures of Merchant Navy Officers with and falsely representing that students were entitled to employment in ships.

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