Fishermen killing: Government fails to defend case

With the Kerala High Court permitting the Italian vessel to sail out of the Kochi port, legal experts point out to the failure on the part of the state in defending the case.

Experts hinted at the delay in filing the seizure report and arraigning the captain of the vessel as the accused in the case. The ship was detained on February 15, but the state filed its seizure report before the Kollam chief judicial magistrate court only on March 26. This became crucial in the case pending before the court.

"It is pertinent to note that the investigating officer filed the report only on March 26 while the petition was filed on March 9. The state had not seized the vessel at the time when the petition was filed before the court”, Justice P. S. Gopinathan pointed out. The court considered this delay as crucial. The Italian vessel Enrica Lexie's counsel pointed out the delay in filing the seizure report during the course of arguments and eventually the investigation team filed the seizure report before the Kollam chief judicial magistrate court.

According to Mr Shyam Kumar, lawyer and a maritime law expert, who also represented a victim, the authorities failed to arraign the captain of the ship as an accused which may affect the investigation of the case in the later stages.He added that it's the usual practice to arraign the captain as the prime accused in the case. The report filed by the Marine Mercantile Department stating its no objection for the release of the vessel also proved crucial in the case.

Meanwhile, advocate-general K.P. Dandapani said that the state is yet to take a decision whether to challenge the High Court order or not. He added that an appropriate decision will be taken after getting consent from the government. The relatives of the fishermen killed in the case will file an appeal on Friday.

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