SC lets kin join terminally-ill Ukrainian prisoner

Ship captain, hospitalised in Chennai, was held in 2013 after arms were found in vessel

The Supreme Court allowed a prayer by a terminally-ill Ukrainian prisoner in Chennai that his fundamental right to life includes the right to die with dignity in the company of family members.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has allowed the wife and family members of an Ukrainian national, diagnosed with cancer, to be with him in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital.

Dudnyk Valentyn, was the captain of M.V. Seaman Guard Ohio, a Sierra Leone-registered vessel owned by a company in Washington D.C., found anchored off the Thoothukudi port in Tamil Nadu in 2013 with a huge cache of prohibited firearms, ammunition and fuel.

Judgment pending

Valentyn is serving his sentence for offences under the Arms Act. The judgment on his appeal has been pending in the Madras High Court for over a year.

In 2016, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer with multiple skeletal, nodal and liver metastases.

“The petitioner [Valentyn] is terminally ill, with no hope of recovery,” the petition, represented by advocates Liz Mathew and Raghenth Basant, submitted.

Mr. Basant argued that the right to live with human dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution included “some of the finer graces of human civilisation, which makes life worth living”.

“Further, the expanded concept of life also found that the right to live with human dignity included the right to co-mingle with fellow human beings,” the petition quoted an SC judgment.

Plea for repatriation

The petition further argued that the right to life for the petitioner, who is a foreign national, would also include the right to be repatriated to his country of origin to spend his last few days. However, the court did not address this question.

Instead, the CJI Bench asked the Madras HC to deliver the judgment on the appeal as expeditiously as possible.

Valentyn’s vessel was found stationed 10.8 nautical miles from the Thoothukudi port on October 11, 2013.

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