The Bombay High Court has permitted cruise ship MV Karnika, currently anchored at the Mumbai port after being placed under arrest, to move to safer waters outside the city in view of the cyclone Nisarga which is set to hit the Maharashtra coast this afternoon.
The vessel was placed under arrest on March 17, 2020 following a financial dispute between owners of the vessel.
Justice AK Menon on Tuesday heard an application filed on behalf of the vessel, seeking permission to move to safer waters as the projected trajectory of the cyclone path indicates it might cover Mumbai region area and other ports of Maharashtra, before heading towards the Gujarat coast.
The application said considering the vessel's size, it may be impacted and probably get damaged. The ship company sought the court's permission that the vessel be taken out of Mumbai temporarily to safer waters and return after the cyclone passes.
As per the plea, MV Karnika is a 14-deck passenger cruise ship and currently has nearly 63 crew members aboard.
The Bombay Port Trust advocate Deepak Motiwala also submitted an application, saying the ship does pose a serious threat to other vessels docked in the port and hence, it would be advisable to move MV Karnika to safer waters.
It said in the application that to bring the vessel in a berth at this stage is not possible as with the currents driven by the weather, damage may be caused to the port and other vessels.
After hearing the arguments and perusing facts of the matter, the court noted that given the impending cyclone and weather, no number of tugs will be able to control MV Karnika at its present location.
I am of the view that MV Karnika and its crew and others must not be imperiled and must be permitted to leave for safer waters, as may be suggested by the port trust in consultation with the master of the vessel, so as to avoid the path of the cyclone, Justice Menon said.
The court accepted an undertaking submitted by the vessel's owner M/s Jalesh Cruises Mauritius Ltd, that the ship will be brought back to port once the cyclone passes. The high court directed the port trust to ensure the vessel leaves immediately from the place where it is currently anchored.
It also directed the master of the vessel, its chief officer/staff captain and chief engineer to surrender their passports to the port trust.
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