Kochi: The Kerala High Court for the first time in its history conducted a late night virtual hearing of an Admiralty suit on Monday to stop a merchant vessel from leaving the Cochin port.
Justice Devan Ramachandran, while hearing a plea filed by Grace Young International Limited, a South Korean company, directed the Cochin Port Trust for the arrest, seizure and detention of the Vessel MV Ocean Rose.
The court which heard the matter at 11.30 PM on Monday, barred the vessel which came with sulphur to Fertilisers And Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) at Ambalamugal here, from leaving the Cochin Port.
All parties, including the judge, the lawyers and court officers took part in the hearing online.
The petitioners had approached the court saying they had provided water to the ship which was anchored here and an amount of around Rs 2.5 crore was due from the vessel.
Grace Young International approached the court for an urgent hearing as the ship was scheduled to leave the port early Tuesday morning.
"Hence, I do hereby direct that the Registrar issue an order of arrest of the defendant Vessel MV Ocean Rose along with her hull, tackle, engines, machinery, boats, bunkers, equipment, peripherals and other appurtenances lying at present at the Cochin Port Trust, within the territorial waters of this Court; and that the said arrest be executed at any time of day and/or night," the order read.
Justice Ramachandran also said that if the merchant vessel deposits a sum of Rs 2,43,75,000, along with the interest and legal costs of Rs 25,000, as claimed by Grace Young International, or by furnishing security for the said amount, the order of warrant of arrest shall stand withdrawn.
The court said if the amount was not paid or security was not furnished, then the Port Trust can initiate auctioning proceedings.
"After execution of the arrest, if an application for vacating the arrest is not filed...or the vessel is found abandoned or unmanned, then, in such an event, on an application to be made by the plaintiff (Grace Young), the Deputy Conservator of Ports, Cochin Port Trust, shall present a report before this Court for auctioning the defendant Vessel within seven days...," the court said.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on January 27.