Nodal Officer to oversee the release of Indian Seamen held hostage by Somalian Pirates

Supreme Court: Hearing the petition seeking directions to the Government of India to intervene and expedite release of Indian Seamen held hostages by the Somalian Pirates in the international waters on 29th March, 2010, 2nd March, 2012 and 10th May, 2012 and to frame anti-piracy guidelines, the bench of T.S. Thakur and A.K. Goel, directed for appointment of a nodal officer who may continue to coordinate and oversee the efforts on the issue and with whom the families of the victims can also have interaction for getting information or giving suggestions.

The petitioner, appearing in person put forth before the Court that three merchant vessels were hijacked in the high sea and out of the crew members held captive by the Samolian pirates, eight persons continued to be detained by them, hence, it was the duty of the Government to take necessary steps to secure the release of the Seamen. However, B. Krishna Prasad, the Counsel for the respondent submitted that all necessary steps have already been taken and will continue to be taken as the Government of India is concerned with the issue of safety of its citizens, therefore, no further direction was required.

Considering the arguments of both the sides and the importance of the matter, the Court noted that this Court cannot assume the role of the executive to oversee the sensitive issue of coordination with international agencies and bodies for securing release of Indian citizens who are held hostages abroad, when it is shown that the departments of the Government have not only taken cognizance of the problem but also taken, in right earnest, whatever steps could be possible. The Court, hence, apart from directing for the appointment of Nodal officer, said that the matter may be periodically reviewed at the appropriate level. Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No. 536 of 2012, decided on 09.09.2014

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnLine

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