The High Court has accepted the judicial sale of M.T. Pratibha Cauvery, which was put on the auction block to clear the dues of various stakeholders.

It may be recalled the motor tanker ran aground near Elliots beach here on October 31, 2012 due to the Cyclone Nilam in which six sailors lost their lives.

The stranded vessel was then docked in the port limits of Chennai Port Trust due to cases filed by creditors seeking early settlement of their claims, including compensation sought by the family members of deceased crew.

Sources told The Hindu that initially, the owners opted to settle the dues by opting for a private sale of the vessel. However, the creditors opposed such a move and approached the court seeking direction for an open, transparent and judicial sale. The court accepted the plea and asked the highest bidder to pay the sum by May 10.

Three parties had evinced interest to purchase the motor tanker, with the highest bid being Rs.16 crore. The successful bidder has paid the amount and the matter has been posted for confirmation of sale. Mumbai-based Pratibha Shipping Company owns nine vessels including Pratibha Cauvery.

The owner decided to sell the vessel as it was declared unseaworthy, all the certificates for sailing/trading had expired, technical aspects for sailing the ship lost and after the Mercantile Marine Department had detained the ship for non-compliance of various deficiencies in the ship. Besides, it did not possess valid marine insurance.

“It made business sense to sell the vessel as the debt exceeded the value of the motor tanker. Moreover, it was not feasible to trade the vessel. Crew wages were pending for several months, claims of the family members of deceased crew was huge, port dues were mounting while mortgage charges due to agents and several ship chandlers also ran into huge amounts. Hence, we sought a judicial sale, so that everyone got their dues,” said a Chennai Port Trust official. After taking into consideration all these aspects, Justice R. Sudhakar directed the judicial sale of the tanker.

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