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Indian High Court wants details on petitioner on 2009 ship sinking

An order from Orissa High Court in India is seeking information on a petitioner who had demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the sinking of Mongolian bulk carrier Black Rose (IMO 7602455) in September 2009.

At least two cases had already been filed and dealt with by the courts in connection with the case, but now another petition has been filed by a Right To Information (RTI) activist, one Pradeep Pradhan, has now petitioned for a CBI probe.

The Shipping Corporation has accepted a CBI probe into the sinking of the vessel. The Union Home Ministry sought a No-Objection-Certificate (NOC) from the Odisha government to initiate a probe. However, despite the Union Home Ministry’s letter seeking NOC from the Odisha government, the State government is alleged to have sat on the letter for years, thus delaying the investigation. Pradhan has therefore filed another petition in the High Court in the hope of pressurizing the Odisha government to provide the requested NOC. At this point in the hearing the Advocate General of the Odisha government argued that Pradhan was acting maliciously and that he also has multiple criminal cases pending against him.

The court asked Pradhan to file an affidavit on all the allegations against him. The High Court has also directed to send the copy of the affidavit to the Paradip Port, the Central Government counsel appearing for the opposite party and the government advocate of Odisha government.

The Black Rose was carrying a cargo of 23,847 tonnes of iron ore and 920 tonnes of furnace oil when it sank 5km off Paradip coast in Odisha under mysterious circumstances when it was on a chartered voyage to China. One of the 27 crew members present on board, the chief engineer, died.

Opposition political parties in the state alleged that the vessel was engaged in the illegal transportation of iron-ore and other minerals, using forged documents. In 2009 Indian police filed charges against the owner and manager of the wrecked 38,000-dwt bulker over its insurance, while a ship agent prepared to take civil action. The Paradip police assert that the protection-and-indemnity (P&I) documents supplied were forged.

Since 2009, despite a number of external attempts at investigation, the case has sat within the purview of the local government, going nowhere.

1977-built, Mongolia-flagged, 22,263 gt Black Rose is listed as owned by Black Rose Maritime Ltd of Majuro, Marshall Islands (since December 2008) and managed by Pacmar Shipping Pte of Singapore (since 2005).