The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation petition seeking transfer of the U.S. ship case from the Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ Branch police to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) or the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI).
On October 18, the M.V. Seaman Guard Ohio, which entered into Indian waters with illegal arms, was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard and the crew was taken into custody by the ‘Q’ Branch police.
A Division Bench, comprising Justices R. Sudhakar and S. Vaidyanathan, dismissed the petition with an observation that “the court did not find any reason to doubt the nature of investigation conducted by the ‘Q’ Branch.”
V. Anbalagan, Editor and founder of Makkal Seithi Maiyam in Chennai, claimed in his petition that the Intelligence Bureau had alerted the State government about the possibility of terror attack in Madurai, Thanjavur and Rameswaram similar to that of the 26/11 incident in Mumbai five years ago.
He expressed apprehension that the ship could have been used by terrorists to enter India through the coast in Tuticorin and Puducherry. Alleging that the ‘Q’ Branch did not understand the gravity of the issue and that it did not have the infrastructure to conduct inquiry, the petitioner contended that a probe by the NIA or the CBI could only “unearth the real reasons behind the ship’s entry into the Indian waters.” According to the petitioner, the crew of the ship was liable to be booked under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, but the ‘Q’ Branch did not book the crew under the Act.
In the interest of the nation and the safety of people, the investigation should be transferred to the NIA or the CBI, he pleaded.
The judges said that it was for the authorities to decide the course of action under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008.