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Shri Irsayam & Others Vs Union of India & Others

Date : 01/02/2008

This case upholds the right of 7 Indonesian sailors to be repatriated to their country of origin where no grounds exist for denial of said right.

Case Details and Status
On 19 August 2006, 14 crew members of M. V. Mac were rescued in a storm by the Indian Coast Guard. The crew members were interviewed upon arrival at Port Blair and given permission to disembark. The crew’s passports and ship documents were taken from them on disembarkation.

Once ashore, the crew members underwent further lengthy questioning and their statements were recorded. They were then placed in Hotel Jayamathi to await repatriation.

7 of the crew members, including the main master, have been repatriated to Indonesia. The remaining 7 have been detained at the hotel pending provision of a plan of action for removal of the wreck by the owners of the craft.

These 7 crew members have been held at Hotel Jayamathi for the past two years. It would seem that they are being denied permission to leave in order to coerce the owners of the craft to remove its wreck. During these two years, the crew members have been away from their families, with no source of income. Their movements have been restricted, leaving them feeling like captives.

The crew members have made numerous approaches to the authorities to request repatriation. The response from the authorities has been tardy, with little or no progress. As payments has also not been made to the Hotel Jayamathi, the owner is reluctant to keep the crew members as guests and has moved them from guest rooms to the store room.

The facilities provided to them are deplorable and in contravention of Human Rights and International conventions on provision of food, health services and education.

The petitioners approached Human Rights Law Network and a letter was sent to the authorities on 1 February 2008. As no response was received, a petition was issued on behalf of the crew members.

In his order of March 2008, Biswanath Somaddar instructed the Assistant Secretary (Home), Secretariat, Port Blair to look into the matter and “take a reasoned decision with regard to the same in conformity and in accordance with law, preferably within 8 weeks but not later than 12 weeks from the date of communication of this order”.

The administration has now passed an order for the repatriation of the crew members to Indonesia.

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