Update: 07 Oct 2021 2:07 PM STI
New Delhi [India], Oct 7 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Thursday granted more time to the central government through the Foreign Ministry in a plea by the families of five sailors stranded in Iran who have asked for instructions to provide assistance financial, consular services and ensure rapid repatriation to India.
Meanwhile, lead lawyer Harsh Vaidyanathan appeared for the MEA, assured the court that the mission in Iran is in contact with the petitioners and is receiving all possible help. The mission provided the five sailors with board and lodging and groceries are provided to them on a weekly basis, the MEA said.
Lawyer Gurinder Pal Singh, who represented the petitioner, maintains that stranded seafarers still do not receive consular services.
Judge Rekha Palli’s bench on Thursday gave the MEA more time to file a status report regarding its actions and set the case for December 21, 2021.
The tribunal had previously issued an opinion to the MEA on the plea of the families of five seafarers stranded in Iran, requested instructions to provide legal and counseling services to the seafarers and ensure their repatriation. The family also asked the Center to actively pursue the matter with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran so that the matter can be settled quickly by the Supreme Court of Iran.
According to the plea, all of the petitioners come from very modest backgrounds. After completing their naval course, the Seafarers secured employment in the United Arab Emirates. They flew separately to the United Arab Emirates but to their shock and dismay and contrary to what their placement officers represented to them, they were taken to Iran where they joined an MV Artin 10 freighter as sailors n ‘performing menial tasks. From October 15, 2019, said vessel passed through various ports including Port Busher, Al-Ruwais Port Qatar, Bandar Abbas Iran, etc. where the cargo was loaded and unloaded.
“On February 21, 2020, while the vessel was in the Strait of Hormoz, Iranian authorities raided the vessel and arrested the captain and the sailors and charged them with conspiracy to smuggle narcotics into high seas. The ship’s owner was also arrested by local Iranian authorities. The seafarers were detained at Chabahar prison for almost 403 days (i.e. from February 22, 2020 to February 8, 2020). March 2021) during which, despite repeated requests, written representations and communications, no potential assistance, including legal assistance, has been granted to them by the Indian government, ”the plea said.
In addition, on March 8, 2021, the Magistrate’s Court in Chabahar, Iran acquitted the five sailors and on March 9, 2021, they set their feet free. However, Iranian authorities refused to hand over their passports and Continuous Discharge Certificates (CDCs).
Later, the seafarers were later informed that the case had been referred to the Supreme Court of Iran. They were further informed that by June 23, 2021, the case would finally be decided by the Supreme Court.
“To date, the Government of India and more specifically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indian Embassy in Tehran have taken no steps to provide them with any assistance, financial or legal to which they were entitled as Indian citizens. The long ordeal and the wait took a toll on the mental and physical well-being of these five seafarers, “the plea said. (ANI)