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Chitra Captain blames it on Kahlijia Master

Decision on bail plea to be based on police investigation report

The captain of MSC Chitra, Mandeleno Ranjit Martin, has moved the court seeking anticipatory bail in view of the case filed against him in the oil spill incident off the Mumbai coast.

On Wednesday, the prosecution gave an assurance that he would not be arrested till August 18, by which time the police are slated to submit their investigation report. The court will then decide on the bail plea on the basis of the report.

“There is no question of arresting him [Mr. Martin] as the Indian Penal code (IPC) sections invoked against him are bailable. I have to verify about the sections of the Environment Protection Act,” chief public prosecutor R.V. Kini told reporters.

Captain Martin and Master Laxman Dubey of MV Kahlijia III have been booked under IPC sections 280 [rash navigation] and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and sections 7, 8, 9 pertaining to prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution of the Environment Protection Act.

Mr. Martin, in his anticipatory bail application, stated that he has been falsely implicated in the case. He alleged that the collision of MSC Chitra with Khalijia III was “due to the negligence and fault of the Master” of the latter vessel.

He said that Khalijia was “unseaworthy and being brought to Mumbai in an unsafe condition.”

“The applicant is experienced [and] has been in this field for about 18 years. The certificates of vessel MSC Chitra were valid and she was properly inspected prior to her sailing. The applicant is personally supervising the salvage operations at the site. If he is sent to jail his reputation and goodwillgained in his field will be completely damaged; the owners of the vessel would also face tremendous loss in their goodwill and reputation in the shipping industry,” the bail application said.

The police have spoken to Mr. Martin and Mr. Dubey. “Both are defending that they were on the right coast. We are verifying their [statements] with VTS [vessel traffic service] data,” Quaiser Khalid, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Port Zone, told TheHindu.

He said the MSC Chitra, registered in Panama, is owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company, a public limited company based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its management operations are conducted from Hong Kong, while its local agents in Mumbai look after the loading and unloading of its ships. “It's a big shipping company owing 140 ships,” Mr. Khalid said.

Khalijia, on the other hand, is owned by Gulf Rock KSC, a Kuwait-based public limited company, with management operations in Navi Mumbai. The company is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange.

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