Chennai: The Madras high court has ordered the arrest of a vessel, registered in Singapore, presently operating at Udankudi Project, Kallamozhi Coastal Village, Tuticorin, as it allegedly failed to pay compensation as per the laws of Republic of Singapore (Work Injury Compensation Act), to the parents of the deceased, who died while in employment.
Justice S.Vaidyanathan ordered the arrest of the Vessel viz Tug Mutha Gem and Barge Mutha Pearl on an application arising out of a suit filed by Raja Pushpam and John Raj, parents of the deceased Sam David Raja.
The judge said the applicants, who are parents of the deceased have come out with the application, seeking to grant an order of arrest of the vessel. Counsel for the applicant submitted that the deceased was employed as Able Seaman by the owner of the vessel and he died in an unforeseen circumstances, out of and in the course of employment, by falling into the tank of the vessel on September 30, 2018.
At the time of death, Sam David Raja was 21 years old. As per clause 17 © of the Seafarer’s Employment Contract, dated August 19, 2018, the laws of the Republic of Singapore is the governing law with respect to the employment of the deceased. Counsel further submitted that the Work Injury Compensation Act currently in force in the Republic of Singapore would apply in the case on hand, as the deceased was a seaman on board in the Vessel registered in Singapore and the lower limit of quantum of compensation to be given to the next kin of the deceased was 69,000 US dollars, which works out to Rs 50 lakh approximately, the judge added.
The judge said the counsel further submitted that the vessel was likely to sail and that the owners of the vessel were trying to pay lesser compensation to the applicants, in terms of the Employees Compensation Act and not as per the Work Injury Compensation Act, which was currently in force in the Republic of Singapore. Taking note of the provisions of the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims Act, more particularly, in the light of section 4 (1) (e), which reads that this court may exercise jurisdiction to hear and determine any question on a maritime claim, against any vessel, arising out of any loss of life or personal injury occurring whether on land or on water, in direct connection with the operation of a vessel, there appears to be a prima facie case in favour of the applicants. In view of the same, this court orders arrest of the suit vessel, the judge added.
The judge said it was needless to say that it was open to the owners of the vessel to deposit 69,000 US dollars as per the Work Injury Compensation Act after converting the same into Indian Rupees, as per the currency value as on date, into the credit of the Registrar general of this court and sail thereafter, with the leave of this court....