MUMBAI: At its first hearing of urgent matters via video-conference (VC) during the Covid-19 lockdown on Friday, Bombay high court directed the release of an arrested offshore supply vessel. The dispute over bunker dues to the fuel supplier ended with the vessel’s Indian owners paying over Rs 1 crore to ensure its release through consent terms.
HC is considering setting up such a VC facility on a long-term basis.
At the 20-minute VC hearing, convened by Justice Anil Menon, advocates Ashwini Sinha for the bunker (marine and diesel oil used as fuel by vessel) supplier and Rishi Murarka for the vessel owner, argued from their residences.
It went smoothly, with no technical glitch or breaks, they said later when contacted.
The vessel was arrested on March 17 after a maritime claim was made by the supplier under Admiralty Act. A ship’s release is generally viewed as a matter of urgency and this vessel was performing offshore support near Bombay High to oil rigs and other offshore installations.
HC had begun VC facility From April 1 with Justice Menon designated to take extremely urgent civil and criminal matters till April 7, for two hours a day, and Justice Gautam Patel for the next seven days, till April 14. HC requested Maharashtra government to release finance for these measures. Some lawyers requested that VC be used for judicial proceedings during the lockdown.
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