Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to examine the feasibility of making a law to check illegal trafficking of manpower for jobs abroad, including on foreign vessels. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Shipping Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry to take an appropriate decision in accordance with law and disposed of a plea seeking to regulate employment of seafarers. “The writ petition is disposed of with a direction to the respondents (ministry) to consider the feasibility of making a suitable law with regard to the issues raised by petitioner in the petition and take an appropriate decision in accordance with law,” the court said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a mother who had lost her 22-year-old son after a ship with 15 Indian sailors onboard exploded off Nigeria’s territorial waters in 2011. Kalawati, in her PIL, had claimed that the Indian crew or manpower were being illegally and arbitrarily trafficked on the basis of forged and fabricated documents and made to work in unsafe conditions. It sought directions to the government to frame rules to check such activity. Kalawati’s son Sandeep Kumar died in September 2011 when an explosion took place on the Nigerian ship, ITB Jacksonville, on which he was working.
The woman had alleged that 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 compelled to work on the ITB Jacksonville, even though the 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 had taken responsibility, she had 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 even legal jurisdiction cannot be ascertained,” the woman had said in her plea. She had claimed that such agencies were involved in illegal human trafficking in conspiracy with foreign ships and ship owners so that in case of any incident, they could go scot-free, facing no liability.