Notice to Centre over 'trafficking' of navy personnel
The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the central government over a petition alleging that various agencies were trafficking technical navy professionals to foreign ships and making them work without proper safety and security.
A division bench of Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw sought response from the shipping ministry and external affairs ministry on the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a mother who lost her 22-year-old son after a ship with 15 Indian sailors onboard exploded off Nigeria's territorial waters.
Filing the PIL, Kalawati said navy professionals were being illegally and arbitrarily sent to foreign ships and made to work in inhuman conditions.
She asked the court to direct the Centre to frame rules to prevent illegal human trafficking.
Advocates D.K. Sharma and S.S. Gill, appearing for the woman petitioner, sought framing of rules to establish minimum liability of a foreign employer towards Indian employees working on foreign ships either in a foreign country or at high seas or in international territorial waters and to make them liable for compensation in case of any mishap.
Kalawati's son Sandeep died in September 2011 when an explosion took place on the ITB Jacksonville owned by a Nigerian.
Five young Indian crew members lost their lives while 10 jumped into the water and were rescued.
The woman said her son was employed in 2011 through the Noha Marine Services Pvt. Ltd. in Mumbai, and a contract was signed in the name of Empire Marine Projects.
Sandeep was sent to Nigeria on a tourist visa and was compelled to work on the ITB Jacksonville, even though that ship was not on his contract.
Sandeep was compelled to work in sub-human conditions without proper safety, legal and factual safe-guards and after his death, no one was taking responsibility, she said.
"The Indian crew or manpower are being illegally and arbitrarily trafficked on forged and fabricated documents which are prepared for such trafficking to take these people abroad and to make them to work in illegal and unsafe manner," the plea said.
"In case of any accident, as the one in the present case, every agency escapes from liability by weaving a web of illegalities so that even legal jurisdiction cannot be ascertained."
The counsel told the court that the various agencies, though approved and registered with the Directorate General of Shipping under the Indian government for employment of technical manpower on Indian ships and on foreign ships, are floating the norms, rules and regulations of employment.
The plea claimed such agencies were involved in illegal human trafficking and in a conspiracy with foreign ships and ship owners so that in case of any incident, they can go scot free and no liability can be fastened upon them.
(Posted on 24-08-2014)