Orissa HC orders arrest’ of foreign Cargo Ship over Unpaid Berth hire charges

The Orissa High Court has ordered the arrest’ of a foreign cargo ship in connection with unpaid berth hire charges at the Paradip Port in the state.

Under an admiralty law, a ship can be arrested for the enforcement of maritime claims that arise out of the ownership, construction, possession, management, operation, or trading of any ship.

The Panama-registered ship, M V Debi, has been anchored at the port for nearly three months in connection with another case.

Several packets believed to be filled with cocaine valued at over Rs 220 crore were seized from it on December 1 last year. An investigation is on by the local authorities under the NDPS Act and Customs Act in this regard.

The Paradip International Cargo Terminal Pvt Ltd (PICTPL), a concessionaire of the Paradip Port, has filed a claim suit against the ship and approached the high court last month seeking a decree to arrest the ship.

The PICTPL has made a maritime claim of Rs 7.95 crore on the cargo ship, which includes berth hire charges, penal charges, legal costs and others.

The single judge bench of Justice V Narasingh observed that PICTPL has been prima facie able to establish that the suit will be infructuous unless the cargo ship is arrested.

The court has fixed March 7 for further hearing of the case.

The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017, conferred admiralty jurisdiction to the Orissa High Court and seven other high courts of India.

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