Ahead of cyclone Nisarga’s landfall, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday permitted cruise ship MV Karnika, currently anchored at the Mumbai port after being placed under arrest, to move to safer waters outside the city.
The vessel was placed under arrest on March 17, 2020, following a financial dispute between its owners to the tune of Rs. 30 crores. The 14-deck passenger cruise ship currently has nearly 63 crew members aboard.
A single-judge bench of Justice Anil K Menon heard the urgent plea by the ship owners, which was supported by the Mumbai Port Trust, seeking permission to move to safer waters as it feared that the ship could cause huge damage to the port if caught in the cyclone.
The court allowed the ship to be moved to safer waters on a condition that it returns with crew members on board and asked the three officers including the captain of the ship to surrender their passports with the port authority.
Advocate Deepak Motiwala for the Mumbai Port Trust supported the application and said that the vessel poses a serious threat to several others in the port and also said that it was not possible to bring the vessel into the berth. “It is extremely risky to bring the vessel into berth because once alongside, the strong currents driven by the weather will in all likelihood damage the berth and property of the port and other vessels,” he submitted.
After hearing submissions, Justice Menon said that given the approaching cyclone, no number of tugs will be able to control the ship at its present location. Justice Menon said, “I am of the view that MV Karnika and its crew must not be imperiled and must be permitted to leave for safe waters, as may be suggested by the Port Trust in consultation with the master of the vessel, so as to avoid the path of the cyclone.”