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Chennai oil spill

Chennai oil spill: HC refuses to detain vessels

February 03, 2017 01:06 pm | Updated 02:26 pm IST - Chennai

An aerial view of the Marina beach in Chennai on Thursday.

An aerial view of the Marina beach in Chennai on Thursday.

Wondering under what law could the court order detention of two ships that collided off the Ennore Port resulting in a major oil spill into the sea, the Madras High Court has disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition noting that it's for the Central and the State government to take appropriate steps.

Pointing out that FIR has been already filed against the two ships - MT Dawn Kanchipuram and MT BW Maple - the First Bench of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M. Sundar said that the authorities have already seized of the matter and it's for them to take appropriate action, including the aspects of providing compensation and recovering the costs from the owners of the vessels.

The PIL moved by National Union of Fishermen, registered in Chennai, submitted it's apprehension that the vessels which were responsible for the oil spill might flee away from the territorial waters of India so as to get away from the legal liabilities.

"Only by detaining the ships the government can effectively prosecute and recover costs from the vessels, which have the responsibility to clean up the mess they have created. The vessels are commercial cargo ships which are insures with elite club of insurers. Unless they are detained, the owners and the insurers would not be submitting to the jurisdiction of Indian laws," Nandhakumar, counsel for the petitioner said.

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