Killing of Indian seafarers in cold blood off Kerala—the case of the St Anthony and Enrica Lexie

The killing in cold blood of Indian fishermen off the Indian coast by armed mercenaries on the Italian ship Enrica Lexie has deeper ramifications which impact not just our seafarers but the roots of our commerce and economic strength. That this has been on sale and barter to the highest bidder is not a secret, but that this is now resulting in the death of innocent fishermen is unforgiveable. An in-depth report on what really happened...

The killing by automatic weapons in cold blood of two Indian seafarers (fishermen) onboard the fv (fishing vessel) S. Anthony in Indian controlled waters off Alappuzha on the Malabar coast by the crew of the Italian ship Enrica Lexie once again brings into focus the unequal task that Indian seafarers have in trying to safeguard their own lives and livelihood. On one side is the real and present danger that our seafarers—people working on fishing boats, dhows, offshore industry ships and more—have from the perils of the sea which now include piracy in no small measure in waters off the Indian coast.

The bigger danger, however, is the almost criminal attitude and approach taken by the various authorities in India in this matter. In this case, if it had not been for the Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy who to their credit acted independently of the soft-pedal attitude pushed forward by the state government in Kerala as well as the mercantile marine authorities in Kochi and Directorate General (DG) of Shipping in Mumbai, then it is not incorrect to state that the Italian ship would have simply escaped like a common criminal and proceeded on its way without demur.

It is not that we have to understand more about just a case of arrogance on the high seas by people who still bemoan the loss of their colonial power in this part of the world. That, too, is a simple truth. It is more important to understand certain facts of this case first:

1) The incident took place about 14 miles off the Indian coast around Alappuzha. One look at a coastal navigation map will show anybody with the least knowledge of navigation and due diligence that such a huge ship had no business to be so close to the coast there. Alappuzha is not a port of call for ships of this size and moreover, any prudent ship-owner and master will positively stay at least 30-35 miles off this coast for more than a variety of reasons—including standing instructions, safety and pollution. If the ship came so close, then it is clear that she did so with some ulterior motive—either to try and get local mobile phone signal or to probably be in line with some other vessel to pick up or drop off the security guards.

2) The case of the Costa Concordia mishap caused by her Italian master and crew in Italy is still fresh, and should have worked on the mind of any reasonable captain, especially Italian, to ensure that the ship stayed a safe distance away. Incidentally, standing instructions on board similar ships of Indian flag indicate that the ship needs to stay at least 36 miles away from coast in such scenarios—including off the Indian coast. This is in line with instructions issued by the DG Shipping on the subject, after the famous groundings off Mumbai last year, by ships which came too close to the Indian coast.

3) The golden rule, never to be broken, for any merchant seafarer, is that if you see a small craft especially if she is fishing, then you stay a good distance away—even if you have to alter course. For us, that was 10 miles—or more. The fisherman’s right to the seaway is paramount—especially close to the coast; that is one thing. The other more important thing is that you do not want your ship’s propellers to get entangled in fishing nets, which are made of very strong nylons, and can cause huge ships to come to a halt. Again, arrogance and bad seamanship by the master, unforgiveable.

4) One of the first things a watchkeeper on a merchant ship is supposed to do in case of threat of piracy or any emergency or distress  is to punch certain buttons which create alarms in various parts of the world—by satellite and other forms of communication. For reasons of security, this is not going to be explained here, but as any seafarer knows—this is a cardinal role. Your certificate can be cancelled if you do not do so. The next steps to be taken, especially if the said emergency or distress is over is to report the same again by a due process.

5) This due process involves informing the vessel’s owners, operators and the relevant authorities. The world’s oceans have been divided into clearly demarcated zones for this, and there is absolutely no doubt that this episode was in the Indian controlled zone, as is known to even the most raw and fresh of seafarers. It appears that the ship informed the owners and operators, but neglected to inform the Indian authorities, while wheels within wheels started working in Kochi and Mumbai and Delhi to soft-pedal the incident and push it under the proverbial carpet.

6) The next step for the vessel is to stop to render help and then make for the nearest port (in this case Kochi, just about 35-40 miles away) and await further instructions, and there is no two ways about it. To try and escape towards Sri Lanka leaving injured fishermen or seafarers behind is counted as murder as per the laws of the sea, and as happened in this case, can only reveal an ulterior motive on the part of the owners and master as well as crew of the ship. It is to the credit of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, which were aware of this incident, that they took independent action.

7) The timing of the incident, at 1630hrs, is also important. This is a time onboard when ALL FOUR of the management-level officers are awake and on duty, and there is no question of placing this to inexperience, as is being made out to the Indian authorities—who it seems are behaving like apologists for the Italians. Seafarers are placed in jail for far less serious offences in the rest of the world, is the Kerala government and the MMD/DGS so much in awe of the departed Italian colonials that even today there is talk of ‘excusing’ the Italian master and armed guards on board?

8) Most importantly, the status of approvals for Indian or foreign security companies hiring Indian origin guards for Indian or foreign ships operating in Indian waters, recruited from ex-servicemen of the Indian Navy or other services, has been kept in abeyance for months now at the level of the DG Shipping and other authorities in Mumbai and Delhi. Our ex-servicemen know our waters and should by all rights as well as common sense be on ships performing what is called “innocent passages” through Indian waters. Instead, we have a wide variety of trigger-happy mercenaries dredged from the dung-heaps on the basis of cheapest best, from all over the world, freely indulging in shoot-outs within miles of our coast.

This incident has far bigger implications than can be understood in so short an article, but in the first instance, this should be used for exemplary action against the master and crew responsible. This is no less than intentional homicide and murder on more than a few counts and then leaving the injured and dying fishermen while trying to escape makes it worse.

In the next article, I shall try to explain the economic aspect of such episodes. Interim, this report was done basis inputs from a variety of sources who all do not wish to be named, but it is amply clear that the merchant shipping and state authorities have been found majorly wanting in this case.

You may also want to read...
Killing of Indian seafarers in cold blood off Kerala—the case of the St Anthony and Enrica Lexie (Part 2) 

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.)

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COMMENTS

Veeresh Malik

5 years ago

Latest update.

"Italian marines pressurised Captain to cover up"

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news...

Roberto

7 years ago

I'm very disappetente... it looks like that politics is going to with over truth.. no matter who is right or wrong, is there any chance to know what did really happen??? Disgusted of both sides.

Roberto

7 years ago

Are we expecting to have the results of the ballistic test anytime soon? We already know that the 7.62 mm bullets in the bodies and on the boat are not compatible with the 5.56 mm the Italians use... how much longer will you retain our soldiers illegally?

REPLY

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

You "already know" about 7.62 mm. How ? Are you referring to the evidence produced by Il Sole, owned by the Confederation of Italian Industry ?
No doubt about the integrity of Luigi di Stefano and his tenacity (Ustica). But his expertise is in aviation and missiles. So there are some questions.
1. If the bullets are 7.62 mm (x 54), I would agree, in principle, with your (and Il Sole's) conclusions. However, before that, some questions:
- Why are Il Sole (and several other sources) referring to NATO caliber as exclusively 5.56 x 45? Other than to confuse. 7.62 x 51 is also a NATO caliber, and used in NATO e.g FN MAG and MG3 (Germany).
In fact, the 31 mm bullet length referred to by di Stefano corresponds exactly to 7.62x51 NATO, as it is called, not 7.62 x 39 Russian.
- Then,the Minimi also has a version in 7.62 x 51 NATO (the ammo is called Maximi).
2. Bullets from a high-velocity rifled barrel are deformed on impact by several factors, including yaw, nutation as well as precession and gyro drift. So before, talking of caliber, in potentially disputed cases, the circumference is not rarely SOP. So I think Signor di Stefano is WRONG in alleging that the Indian analysis of circumference is "credo sia la prima volta al mondo" (I leave the translation to you). For example, the famous .357 Magnum fires the same diameter bullet as the .38 Special. There are many more, not least .308 and 7.62 x 51 NATO itself (not identical but interchangeable, up to a point).
In the US, where gun crimes are investigated far more strenuously than India or Italy (for different reasons), a very recent manual on recovery of bullets, called 'Firearm/Toolmark Procedures Manual' stipulates "Determine the widths of one land and groove impression, multiply by the number of land and groove impressions to obtain the circumference." These land and groove width dimensions are SOP with the FBI (e.g GRC standards).
3. Finally, in a very small side note in the Il Sole piece, there is a reference to .50/13 mm, and a "criptico e furbesco" angle by the Indian expert wrongly called Sisikala. Let me refrain from allusions here on crypts and apocrypha, and their unique contexts. But, interestingly, while Il Sole mentions the .50, subsequent editions (e.g by blitzquotidiano) omit this reference. So where did .50 suddenly metamorphose into 7.62, uniquely, and then remain there ?
4. I have mentioned this before, but experts in India know that San Marco are equipped with .50 Browning M2s, and on naval deployments too. If they did not, many would question the wisdom of relying wholly on a Minimi for effective deterrence.
5. From the beginning, there has been an effort to confuse the legal case with politics and other factors (Third World compensation amounts, smells of piss, Sonia, by-elections, media pressure - Enrica is off the attention of the Indian media for two weeks, the competence of using "circumference" for the "first time in he world", satellite evidence (still unexplained). Does Italy own day-night, all-weather radar sats ? India does, and will soon launch a new, much larger one.
Each time an assumption went out of the window, in pops a new one. Now we hear about Sisikala's new frontiers.
5. If the evidence indicates the marines are innocent, they will be let off. If not, many would agree with you that their detention is illegal.
6. So wait and see what the ballistic results show, and also whether the VDR was or was not tampered with - a very serious issue, too.
7. Politically, there is a LOT Italy must learn from this incident and the IMO for the dangerously misleading info on piracy in the east Indian ocean, which led to much of this fracas.
I do not say the deafening silence from India helps, but you can see that no one there cares for Italy, or the UK (which gets snubbed routinely by India, on ministerial visits and much more).
So, explain to your politicians and media that next time - if they wish to avoid making a circus out of your San Marco people (above all, if they are innocent), they should do some homework on 'unilateral' laws (e.g on the absence of SOFA, non-declared rules of engagement, Master's authority over-ridden but to mysterious sources).
Serious columnists in Italy have alluded during the past few weeks to sending an Italian frigate to India. Since you are so committed to this, ask them to read up a bit on India and its Navy, maybe even little snippets on the Brahmos missile.
India also has its own idiots, or they will get these kinds of messages, soon enough.

Roberto

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

Ashutosh,
you are so good to find good reference on the internet as you are to pull bullshits out of your ass, mixing things that nothing have to do with this case... and that is all you and other media have done so far on this case; il Sole 24 Ore is owned by Confidustria...and so what? It is the most respected media in Italy for his objectivity... As far as point 2, yes, bullets are deformed... that why ballistic experts exist... what is the problem? that the results are not coming out as you were expecting? How long is it going to take? 'cmon, you are just ridiculous.
So, India is launching a new big ass satellite... and so what? It is so important for you guys to prove how good you are? The frustration of being a colony is still so inside you that you need to prove to the entire world that? Let me tell you something... you are and you will always be a third world country, no matter what you do... it is in your culture, in every indian i meet, world wide... take care

justin

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Mr Roberto- I have been reading your comments and it appears you get information "straight from the horses mouth".
Please let us know what was the list of arms & ammunation that were on board the ship on the fateful day- can this list be confirmed from the Customs as declared by the Masterat the ports of call before this incident.
(please do not say that such a list does not exist as they were military personnel).
There is a strong feeling that in the days before the guns were seized by the police, the used ones were disposed off and the given guns fired into the sea and shown as the fired guns to fox the authorities.
There is also a strong feeling that videoing was done by a few crew members but they have all been confiscated by the Captain/ guards.
Lastly why are the names of the 19 Indian crew members not being made public; as also the names of the personnel who were on Bridge watch duties from 1400/ 1700 hrs IST.
The truth will come out sooner than later.

As to your comments about India and Indians-let it be said that Italy is not a third world country but a basket case- bravado never takes anyone anywhere.When uoy point a finger remember four fingers point back at you.
You are too scared to even give your full name unlike Ashutosh &VM who are open.

Roberto

In Reply to justin 7 years ago

Well, we don't want some Indian hacker to get into my computer right... it is too easy to piss all you off guys... and it was funny!

You are so stereotypical about what you know about Italy and Italians... that it is not even interesting anymore.

You are finding so many excuses for your inefficiency.... now the weapons have been disposed... video erased... indian crew retained... c'mon guys... if you want to made up stories you can talk about 9-11 conspiracy or the moon landing... you will have better chances...

malQ

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Good morning - I think we need to have faith in the Indian legal system. As of now, the Italian government as well as the ship-owners and other entities do.

Roberto doesn't. Bad luck.

Being subject to various types of international law is part of an accepted risk when working on ships. Nobody forced those Italian mercenaries (now terrorists??) to work on a ship heading into Indian waters.

As for the rest, what can one say - though the news of the Italians wanting to send a frigate to India was amusing. Who will pay for the fuel?

brgds/malQ

justin

In Reply to malQ 7 years ago

Now the news breaks that an Italian Helicopter company was openly offering 8-15 pct bribes to the MOD to sell their helicopters to the Indian Navy.
Maybe they should send the helicopters on the Frigate somebody suggested they send to get the two Msarine Sergeants out of jail.
Irony is it not

Roberto

In Reply to malQ 7 years ago

"Being subject to various types of international law is part of an accepted risk when working on ships. Nobody forced those Italian mercenaries (now terrorists??) to work on a ship heading into Indian waters. "

Merceneries? Terrorists? How far are you planning to push this joke?

International laws includes militaries of a foreign country to be judged by their own country... take the US soldier that killed 17 people in Afghanistan... how would you call that? but he will be judged in the US, nevertheless... the truth is that you have no proof, no evidence, no nothing... just a report about a black and red boat that the police suggested to the fisherman was the Enrica Lexie. Your judge is under political pressure to find excuses to retain the soldiers further... now they are terrorists? So Italy i guess is a terrorist country... WOW... US should take care of Italy instead of Afghanistan.... don't you see how absurd you are?
Nobody has not even told be for what reason two italian soldiers should have open fire to fishermen... there is an interesting report that talks about facts... i will translate it for you... i have not seen one of the indian side yet, beside assumptions and racial words...

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

No comment.
My ass meditates thoughtfully on the complexities of the cosmic order, while the "First" World falls into the Fourth.
Amen.

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

Roberto - you have what we call a loose trigga finga.
Please post your email ID and I shall send you links (including pictures) on where exactly the expertise on weapons resides in my ass, and has been used with more complexity than Il Sole's off-context one liners.
Or write directly, if you wish, to [email protected]

Satnam Sarkar

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Mr. Roberto,
You Italians are beginning to worry that YOUR shit is hitting the fan.
We have a saying Jub kutta zyada jor se bhookta .... but you will not understand. Panini is not pasta. It is the name of history's first grammarian.
Moderator, you should remove these personal attacks.

Jaswinder Singh

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Bobby Boy,
Your industry confederation owns a paper. That is objective.
Your former Prime Minister owned half the TVs and some underage girls.
Veni Vidi Vici or whetever the hell you say. But don't come before you conquer.

From what I just read why are you so afraid with the truth. All that Mr. Ashutosh is saying is that your politicians passed a law that brought your army to India. Now do not piss us too much. The Indian Army, including some of my ancestors, beat the shit out of the Italian army at Tobruk and Montecassinni. But then you were a German colony. Still are.
Your new Prime Minister, Herr Monti, is appointed by Germany, right ?

Satnam Sarkar

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Third World country ??
While the Italian Prime Minister is with a begging bowl in China for money but the Chinese are saying:
"Monti's labor reforms fail to impress some observers" China Post - ‎Mar 26, 2012‎.
Roberto, you racist shit, you speak Mandarin yet ? Learn quickly.
And remember, India will have to say okay to the Eurozone bailout which countries like yours need very, very urgently.

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

7 years ago

Roberto, very reasonably, people on this page, are trying to tell you something.
Two people have died.
So just keep a check on the balance between two dead people from India, and two others from Italy - who have legal and consular representation, and are being fed pizza - by Court order.
(India also has people of the caliber of Storace and groups like Destra - re. my comments below - possibly also some local political people (e.g one in Milan) suggesting Italy should learn from the US and liberate your guys. My, my ... think these good folks should go and see what the US is learning from Indian special forces in the Jungle Warfare school at Mizoram or the High-Altitude Warfare school (available from US military Websites), or simply do some schoolbook maths on numbers, or just check Botswana's Airborne Africa (US Delta Forces and German GSG-9 and British SAS against Indian NSG and Marcos).
But that is free advice and misses the point you have missed below: NO Indian minister would make a dump-headed statement like Luca Zaia, especially with such immaculate timing. So do cut the equivalence.
On the other hand, as you are not getting the point on jurisdiction, I firstly and truly hope that the Enrica Lexie VDR and log is intact, somewhere or 'mea maxima culpa'.
But even then, in any case, let me quote a recent legal document on the de jure aspects in Italian (Legge Applicabile/Applicable Law); I have had a translation in English below that. This is core to the issue.
"Ai sensi dell’articolo 94 CNUDM, la giurisdizione sulle navi in alto mare è quella dello Stato di bandiera della nave medesima. Tuttavia, in caso una guardia armata causi il ferimento o la morte di una parte terza, un membro dell’equipaggio, un pescatore innocente od un pirata, in alto mare eventuali procedimenti penali o disciplinari possono essere iniziati dalle autorità dello Stato di bandiera o dallo Stato di cui tale soggetto sia cittadino.
TRANSLATED:
"Under Article 94 of UNCLOS, jurisdiction over vessels on the high seas is that of the State whose flag the ship itself. However, if an armed guard were to cause injury or death of a third party, a crew member, an innocent fisherman or a pirate on the high seas any criminal or disciplinary proceedings may be initiated by the authorities of the flag State or by the State of which such person is a citizen."
The two dead fishermen were citizens of India.
On a final note, may I request you to confirm three issues:
- Is the amount paid by the shipowners privately to the State, per soldier, @500 Euros per day ?
- Is there a reward for successful prevention of acts of piracy ?
- Is there anyone in Italy wondering how your government (no doubt preoccupied with its then near-bankruptcy) could rush through Law 107 last year, whose area of potential hostile encounter cuts into a country whose Navy and its air arm, and satellite infrastructure, is a little better equipped than Italy's, or Somalia's.
Highly principled and committed people always fill me with awe. Frankly, I wish India had some (more) like you. So I wish to join Malq in humbly submitting the above for your consideration.

REPLY

Roberto

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

AS,
considering that India ranks way worst than Italy as far as corruption, i would avoid any comment on your politician (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index)
As far as translation, the last sentence refer to the country of the ship flag or to the country of the shooter, not of the victim... don't fool around with Google translate... (di cui tale "SOGGETTO", so the "guardia armata").
As far as the last point, i do confirm that shipowners pay for the escort; the amount i don't know, but it is sound reasonable... it is half of what i get as engineer when i do consulting, so it is not out of range... i don't see the problem... somebody has to pay for the expenses, considering that India is evidently not doing what it is supposed to do to protect the area...

malQ

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Dear Roberto,

Thank you for starting on corruption here.

1) You might want to read one of the articles I wrote on the supply side/demand side of corruption and pick up a copy of Nicholas Shaxson's "Treasure Islands" to understand what or who is corruption in this world. Please do not get me started on the corruption inherent in Italy's system or more in the enclaves within Italy - the Vatican and San Marino - and how it impacts the rest of the world.

2) Issue here is simple - 2 Indians have been killed on Indian territory. The suspects are in custody. An investigation is ongoing, a trial will take place. Now it appears that the armed mercenaries were contract bounty killers.

Please accept things. The history of the Indian Ocean economies from the advent of the Europeans is full of gun running by them, especially the Italians who felt that the Portugese and Spaniards had gone way ahead of them.

Now it is time for justice.

Best regards/VM

Roberto

In Reply to malQ 7 years ago

MalQ,
who would be the armed mercenaries you are talking about? I don't think you are referring to the two Italian Soldiers of the Italian Elite Corp Battaglione San Marco, right?
BTW, Italian media are referring that more than 300 fishermen has been killed in the past few years by Sri Lanka troops but nothing has been done due to political reasons between the two countries... is it true?

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Roberto,

I do not talk about 'corruption' in your politicians or ours - just refer to a very immaculately-timed, cosmopolitan comment, at the level of an Italian Minister. Then again, as far as corruption goes, most Indians will actually agree with you, but let us not rake up a can of worms.
I do not. The catchword in the Wiki piece and anything from Transparency is 'perception', and if one goes looking for corruption, you find it - like beauty, that too lies in the eyes of the beholder, people like Signor Calvi, Craxi etc. etc. Agusta with the former Secretary General of NATO, who agreed there was some money in his bank account but did not know where it came from. Want a whole litany there ? Tell me where to send it.
Do note that no Indians not arrive at a place with preconceived ideas. Your biggest newspaper found it fit to publish that courts in India smell of piss. Yum, yum. As if that has anything to do with the case at hand ?
But this is not the place for all that.
On the translation, I was only trying to be courteous, coming as I do from a place with a rather small number of official languages.
So I do not FOOL around, Roberto, with Google. I also write here under my real name, unlike you - and if you wish, do check my audiences, on the same Google. I cannot afford to fool around; neither can they. So do not get personal.
But the Italo-Google translation means little. Here is the English version from the UN:
"Each State shall cause an inquiry to be held by or before a suitably qualified person or persons into every marine casualty or incident of navigation on the high seas involving a ship flying its flag and causing loss of life or serious injury to nationals of another State or serious damage to ships or installations of another State or to the marine environment. The flag State and the other State shall cooperate in the conduct of ANY INQUIRY HELD BY THAT OTHER STATE into any such marine casualty or incident of navigation.
UNCLOS has many gray areas; everyone knows that. But let us wait till the lawyers butt heads.
Before that, let us first see whether or not your guys shot some innocent people, who may have been simply waving their hands for Enrica to stay clear of their nets.
Roberto, very pleased to hear what you earn as an engineer. Have you also carried an assault rifle, sat behind the turret of a .50 caliber gun ? Know the responsibility this entails.
As for protecting the "area", take a look at IMO maps (till Enrica blustered in, there was ZERO). Maybe also sit down and read a bit about Indian naval efforts at hotspots on the same map, off Somalia - and in the Straits of Molucca.

Pratap Nair

7 years ago

See the case of Prabu Daya , the ship has been arrested and the master too.
Same rules apply, Of course all this has to be proven in court, including the voyage data recorder, which as per news paper reports has been missing in the case of Enrica Lexie

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

7 years ago

Wow. Francesco Storace (of right wing activists Destra) plans a night-time blitz on Indian restaurants in Italy to protest the Enrica Lexie affair, according to the 'Wall Street Journal'.
I wonder if such a thing would be allowed in India ??
But ... re. Roberto's reference below to 'civilized', do note the following:
In early 2009, Minister of Agriculture Luca Zaia, hailed moves to clamp down on non-Italian food as 'the safeguarding of our culture'. The city of Lucca (Tuscany) had just banned new Indian (and other 'ethnic') restaurants.
For context, this was not that long after an Indian was burnt by some attackers in Nettuno, near Rome.
Wonder if Storace/Destra have been inspired by these kinds of initiatives, and Ministers ?
Now, Indian courts order Italian food for the detainees from Enrica Lexie. Civilized or ... ?

REPLY

Roberto

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

Italy is full of stupids and Mr. Storace is one of those... don't take it as example. Nobody even listen to him anymore.
As far as Mr. Zaia, the issues was related to the fact that Europe would like us to buy oranges from Holland (???) when we have plany in Sicily... that's purely politics.
As far as Mr. Navtej Singh, he was attacked by three stupid guys that were having nothing better to do... they ended up with 14 years in jail... as i said every country has their own stupids.
But the point is that Italy is not claiming that the soldiers should be released but indeed, if guilty, processed in Italy under martial court. What would happen if an indian soldier would kill a civilian by mistake during a peace keeping action in another country... he would be judged by indian military court, right?
I think indeed that if the soldiers were US Marines or British, India would have not acted that way, but indeed it would have even apologized for forcing the marines to waist some bullets... that's the true... but there are so many economics and political reason to allow India to act as it is acting, that has nothing to do with the research of the truth...

malq

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Dear Roberto,

The armed mercenaries on the ENRICA LEXIE were NOT peace-keeping forces under any circumstances. The official United Nations military observor forces for India are well-defined and details can be found here:-

http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missio...

The armed mercenaries took a unilateral action without any authorisation whatsoever on Indian territory, the fv St.Antony, and an investigation needs to be carried out. The issue of obstructing justice and destroying evidence is also a factor here.

Your comments about British or American troops is without any basis whatsoever.

One question you have not answered is this - there are more than enough robberies and thefts and pirate attacks in Italian waters on ships and yachts. Have the Italian armed military army San Marco ever shot at them and killed them like this, using high velocity sniper weapons, shot down like even animals are not hunted?

The message is clear - please don't mess with us, we have moved on from the colonial era. Italy should move on, too. Mare Nostrum is not feasible anymore.

Humbly submitted/vm

Roberto

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

Malq,
it is evident that you are talking just on emotional facts... at this time we still have not seen any objective proof that those bullets have been shoot by our SOLDIERS.
The fact that you still call them mercenaries, prove only that you just want to make a case out of anything. As a matter of fact, they keep retaining their uniforms, as they should. Mercenaries do not wear uniform and their status of Italian Soldiers have never been discussed, not even by Indian Justice.
And as i said before... stop talking about colonial era and roman "Mare Nostrum"... if you learnt a new word today, you should not use it everywhere... it is evident that colonialism is still a big problem for you guys but only on your side... honestly i can car less of how you mess up your country

p phipson

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Dear Roberto,
You mention that the two marines keep retaining their uniforms, even when attending court or while in the Central jail.
Tell me one thing, while on the ship Enrica Lexie do all 6 of the marines wear their uniforms; do they daily do their military training/ drills; do they go ashore at all ports of call in full military uniform- even when the ship is loading or discharging.
Are the remaining 4 marines on the EL while in Kochi always in uniform.
I read that the marines are in direct touch n get direct orders from the Ministry of Defence, Rome (and not from the Captain). So do they have their own communication setup on the EL bypassing the ships official communications setup.
I am still perplexed as to what happens at each port of call of the ship when there are marines on board-I know the ships communications setup is sealed but what about these marines communications setup with the Italian MOD- sealed too.
I am perplexed about the arms/ ammunation on the ship at each port of call- are they seperately sealed by the local authorities after an inventory has been made of them.
Please enlighten me an ignoramus

e sylva

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

I have been reading all that has been written but some things as an ex seafarer confuse me.
It is mentioned that the fv was 100 mtrs away from the ship Enrica Lexie when the soldiers fired at "an apparent pirate vessel with 5 armed men on board"- 100 mtrs is 320 ft which means that with a bulbous bow the 15,000 dwt tanker (in ballast)wake would have already affected the fv making her toss & twist.This was at about 4 pm in the afternoon on a sunny clear day in the lower tropics of the Arabian Sea.
Well, how did this "fv- apparent pirate boat" reach this close to the ship.
Everyone knows that the horizon from 40 ft above waterlevel (bridge of a ship) in clear visibility is close to 12 /15 kms or 7 nautical miles. Nobody is mentioning whether this fv/apparent pirate boat was the only one on the E.Lexie visual horizon or was one of many vessels observed- why when the Kerala coast is rich with fish and abound with fv's.
The fog horn of the ship has a blast that is heard at least 3 miles way- I hurt my ear drum as the blast was sounded while I was close to the horn decades ago.Did the Captain/Duty officer sound the horn & did so repeatedly to attract attention (telling me that the Aldis lamp was used at 3 pm towards a fv/boat looking into the sun/ship is a joke of the year).
Sound signals are part of the anti collision requirements as any seafarer will know.
I read that the ship was bound for Fujairah from Singapore so must have passed the southern tip of Sri Lanka and then headed along the indian coast- sometime during or after the incident orders came to the ship to divert to Suez-what time was this diversion order sent out by whomever & what time was it received by the Captain & implemented.Surely when implemented there will have been communications between the ship/ owners as to when this was done and what time the ship would reach its destination.
why is this kept away with Scorpio saying they wash their hands off the vessel.
I have more but later after these few are answered.

malq

7 years ago

Dear Roberto - here's what the Italians did when somebody killed passengers on an Italian flag ship in international waters.

Now, when Italians kill Indians on an Indian flag fishing vessel in Indian waters, Italy wants that the attackers - whether soldiers or not - should be released?

Where is the sense in this, one rule for Italians themselves, and another rule for others?

Please be rational.

rgds/VM

+++


Achille Lauro

MS Achille Lauro was a cruise ship based in Naples, Italy. Built between 1939 and 1947 as MS Willem Ruys, a passenger liner for the Rotterdamsche Lloyd. It is most remembered for its 1985 hijacking. In 1994, the ship caught fire and sank in the Indian Ocean off Somalia.

On October 7, 1985, four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) took control of the liner off Egypt as she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said.

The hijackers had been surprised by a crew member and acted prematurely. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians then in Israeli prisons.

After being refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers killed disabled Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and then threw his body overboard. The ship headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner.

United StatesPresidentRonald Reagan ordered that the plane be intercepted by F-14 Tomcats from the VF-74 “BeDevilers” and the VF-103“Sluggers” of Carrier Air Wing 17, based on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, on October 10 and directed to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, a N.A.T.O. base in Sicily, where the hijackers were arrested by the Italians after a disagreement between American and Italian authorities.

The other passengers on the plane (including the PLF leader, Abu Abbas) were allowed to continue on to their destination,despite protests by the United States. Egypt demanded an apology from the U.S. for forcing the airplane off course.

+++

REPLY

Roberto

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

Malq,
i am rational but what you are mentioning has nothing to do with this case... those of the Achille Lauro were terrorists; our are soldiers in uniform in a mission approved by Nato and ONU; so if something happen it was an accident. India is taking a unilateral decision of kidnapping our soldiers disregarding any international agreement.

KUTTY

7 years ago


Dear Francis Thovez,

As per the affidavit filed by the Italian Consulate General in India in the High Court of Kerala, case has been registered against the marines in Italy. (They will get 21 years of life imprisonment in Italy)

If
“they (Italian marines) fired warning shots to the air and water, to protect “their” territory, thus fully meeting the current regulations, in order to grant the safety of sea traffic threatened by criminal activities that jeopardize personal and economic freedom of movement in high seas”,

Why, then, a case has been registered in Italy against the marines, Mr. Thovez ?

REPLY

Roberto

In Reply to KUTTY 7 years ago

Because it is a normal procedure to register this case in order to allow the defense to have full access to all the papers and acts. It is as easy at this. As soon as they will be release from India, there will be no need for a trial in Italy. Regards

p phipson

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

So Roberto what you are in fact saying is that the case is an eyewash so that the marines (in this case the defence) gets full access to all papers, documents,etc,etc .
But you add that as soon as they get released from India, the so called trial in Italy will get put into cold storage forever.
What about the acts of ommission by the Italian Captain, the officers on duty on the bridge when this incident started developing and actually happened, what about the witnesses from the crew who may have seen what happened (surely with an "imminent pirate boarding scenerio" the rest of the crew would have been alerted, would have gone to their respective stations to face the "pirates" with the defences that they had with them,etc),what about the log entries, the electronic "black box", the ships course/speed recorder, the engine speeds/etc- why is all this kept "under wraps".
I am shocked to know that "the marines were protecting their 105,000 ton double skinned, inert gassed and 15 metres freeboard vessel from a wooden fishing boat that had only 2 men visible on deck".
I am sure the authorities have the right to cross question every one of the crew to see if there is an "Italian cooked up story" that has been spun- Indians are pass masters in interogation I can assure you.And will get to the truth.

Roberto

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

P Phipson... so why should two trained marines shoot to a wooden fishing boat that had only 2 men visible on deck? For fun? There is no rational reason behind anything beside a pure intention of discourage the use of military troops on board of boats, in order to allow indian corrupted politics to do what they want.

francis thovez

7 years ago

The two marines from "Reggimento San Marco" did not shoot the fishing boat

The two Italian marines from “Reggimento San Marco”, trained to think before taking action, strictly followed the standard procedures concerning the fight against piracy.
They fired warning shots to the air and water, to protect “their” territory, thus fully meeting the current regulations, in order to grant the safety of sea traffic threatened by criminal activities that jeopardize personal and economic freedom of movement in high seas.
The two marines of the Italian Navy, on board the Enrica Lexie as protection detachment, took action while in international waters, fully in accordance with the United Nations resolutions and with law N. 130, August 2nd 2011; as their action’s target was a “boat suspected of piracy.”
The Italian marines on board the Enrica Lexie, that was sailing off the Southwestern coasts of the Indian peninsula, intervened last Wednesday, at 12.30 (Italian time), after sighting a boat approaching with five armed people on board.
Despite light flashes signaling and the identification procedures performed by the marines, the fishing boat did not change her course. At that point, the marines shot three series of gun shots (20 in all), with dissuasion purpose, but did not hit at any time the hull of the “boat suspected of piracy.”
After the last series of shot, the fishing boat moved away from the Italian motor tanker.

REPLY

p phipson

In Reply to francis thovez 7 years ago

Sir,
Are you aware of the different modes of attracting attention that a merchant ship has on board? Light, sound, electrical,electronic.
Are you aware that light signals are useless when the receiver is looking into the sun.
No doubt that the fishing boat was 100 mtrs away from the ship when fired upon. Did she just drop into place. Why were the fog horns not sounded, why was the ships whistle not used, why was the VHF not used.
To be told by the Consulate that the marines were out of the control of the Captain is really putting the nail into the coffin.
Is the Captain of a merchant ship a mere figurehead when there are armed marines on the ship. When does he next get complete control over his ship. Am I being told that the marines have authority to overrule the Captain.
Sorry as a seafarer I cannot swallow such a scenerio.
Find some other excuses.

malq

In Reply to francis thovez 7 years ago

Dear Francis Thovez,

Thank you for writing in.

The issue here is the murder of two Indian seafarers (fishermen) who were murdered on an Indian flag fishing boat (Indian territory). There are some suspects, the legal system in India is trying them, and that is how it is.

The rest of it, your contention about UN resolutions and similar, are noted - but do not apply on Indian territory.

The Italian ship could have stayed far away from Indian waters but it chose to enter and stay within Indian waters. As a result, it now faces Indian laws, and if that is not agreeable - then it should not have entered Indian waters.

Please, this is 2012 - and not the age of colonial gunboat diplomacy. Anybody wants to be in or around India, adheres to Indian law.

UN Resolutions on many other things may be applicable to Italy also, is Italy in full adherence to them, would you care to double check please?

Please also see the case of the ALONDRA RAINBOW in this context.

Humbly submitted/VM

Roberto

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

Malq, you should really stop about all this history of colonialism... and you should blame England, not Italy nevertheless.
India has agreement in place about military troops and jurisdiction... everything else is just words in the wind. If the boat was more than 12 miles away, those are international water. I remember another guy that was having problems remembering that... he was mr. Gheddafi from Lybia... and he did not end up well. This is why we have treats and agreements. You don't like them, .... not my problem.

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Gadaffi "did not end up well." Do you mean that Italy will/can attack India .... Which planet are you on ? The effective tonnage and fleet size of the Indian Navy will very soon be more than Italy and France combined.
'Vital' interests simply mean the right of a State versus international agreements, when the waters (sorry) are gray.
And so to clarify the context of 'colonialism': no one is talking about history or why Signor G. Marconi was disgraced officially by the IEEE (not so long ago) for stealing a key invention from an Indian scientist. One is only referring to a state of mind and two contextual parallels which are uncomfortably close to the source of the 'piracy' problem, namely Somalia.
Here goes. Case 27765/09:
The European Court of Human Rights has held that a group of Somalian and Eritrean nationals who were intercepted by Italian Customs boats and returned to Libya involved a violation of Article 3 (Anti-torture and inhumane treatment), Article 4 of Protocol 4 (collective expulsion of aliens), and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Your business ? Right ? Agreed.
Or the infamous case of Italian "peacekeepers" in Somalia.
New York Times: August 9, 1997
"Italy confirmed today that its soldiers had tortured Somalis while on a peacekeeping mission, but an official report said that the abuses were not widespread and that senior Army officers were largely blameless.
The commission suggested that magistrates and rights experts should travel with soldiers on future peacekeeping missions to guarantee that international law is upheld.
Two generals who led the Italian forces to Somalia resigned in June after publication of graphic reports of sexual violence against a Somali woman, electric torture of a young man and allegations that an officer had murdered a young boy. Ettore Gallo, a former president of Italy's Constitutional Court who led the inquiry, said the two could not be held responsible.
Your justice ? Right. Your business. Sure.
Not India's concern at all - even though India has placed 100 times more soldiers in UN peacekeeping. Hell, the joke was when Indian combat troops escorted EU troops who were escorting EU election observers in Congo - where the combat arm of the whole exercise (AIFVs, 20+ attack helicopters) was Indian.
Finally, okay I am just guessing. Let us see the evidence when it comes up.
But this is important. A Minimi (even the Beretta version used by Italian San Marco) works ONLY on full automatic. And the 'experts' in the media commenting on the 'size' of the bullet holes in the St. Antony obviously forgot about yawing - a reason, why Belgian SS109 ammunition is used rather than M193 in the NATO 5.56 x 45 standard.

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

And don't get me wrong. We may have a muddleheaded government, but we do not have the Council of Hindu Temples all over the place, or their opinions aired on the front page of national dailies. They keep to themselves, where they belong, scandals and all.
Meanwhile, can you give one, just one major 'Italian' paper which has even considered the 'Indian' side of the case.
In contrast, a very respected Indian daily, Tehelka, has coherently echoed the 'Italian' case, like a trained parrot. Another, Asian Age, has asked India to de-escalate.
That, my friend, is democracy: a cacophony of opinions, underscored by the rule of law, not a choreographed opera.

Roberto

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

This exactly what i'm talking about... i'm not talking about wars or anything... what i'm saying is that from a country that claims to be civilized, i would expect respect for international laws and agreements. Indeed all i see is claims on individual events... the point is that those are two italian soldiers on a mission; and they are treated as criminals, and i refuse to believe that they were in the middle of the sea shooting to innocent people for fun; all i see indeed is hate and acts of force from India proving that you yet still have a long way to go before considering yourself a civilized country; shipping thousand of degreed people around the world those not make you one; having military power and nuclear bombs either; i'm sure that considering that India is such a great place, you will have no problem if we collect all the illegal immigrants from India, pack them on a boat and send them back to you, right?

malq

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Whoa Roberto!

The era of "mare nostrum" is over, and how far back in history do you want to go on immigrants, 25 million to the US in the last 125 years from Italy to start with?

Please do not forget, just about 70 years ago, it was soldiers from India who liberated Italy, and then helped re-build it. Be grateful instead of talking about "packing in boats and sending them back".

These two armed mercenaries, they are suspects, they are now under-trials. Think about it - how many thieves running around in boats in Naples or Porto Marghera harbour have been shot dead, ever, by such armed guards that you want to justify them coming to Indian waters and claiming immunity?

Stand trial. If they are guilty, they get punished. If they are not, they get released. Simple as that.

If Indian law was not acceptable the ship should not have come into Indian waters. This is the risk of doing international business

Regards/VM

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Indeed - but you did talk about lessons of Gadaffi. Please see final para too.
I mentioned already that international law is over-ridden by national law in 'gray' areas, and that is part of accepted international law.
So, the 'where' of the accident may be 'gray' but the ship VDR and log ought to have details. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case.
India's due process is never in a hurry. So before Indian police let us know about the missing (?) VDR and log, have your people set that record straight.
Corriere della Sera has a good write up - your government and Foreign Ministry made the mess of colliding with a rising world power, while your expert perceptions date back a century or two. My other comments below may indicate how and why.
Your courts or Parliament should quickly look at the legality of Law 107. There were reasons why ill-informed 'experts' rushed this through.
Corriere, however, suggests Italy should take the "help" of the EU and Britain. Again, catch up with the clock. Don't touch Britain. It is a place now treated by India, like Brazil treats Portugal. Indian companies are Britain's largest employer incidentally, but Britain is still desperate to give India aid - which India does not want and calls peanuts. Indeed, India gives more aid now to Africa (or Afghanistan) than Britain. So, last week a perplexed Britain toughened visa rules for Indians. The Indians tightened visa rules for Brits. Guess who blinked first ?
This indicates who needs who more today. So hope your protestors that if Italians boycott Indian goods, they will be playing with fire; India invented the 'boycott' tradition as a weapon. Your companies (whatever is left of them) need the Indian market much more than India needs them.
Piss Indians of too much, and they may not subscribe to the IMF bailout of the Euro, or buy out Ducati (yes, may well happen if Indian-American funds have their way).
So, do collect all the illegal immigrants 'from India' and send them back. But check your figures, again. India has a very low rate of 'illegal' immigration. Indeed, net illegal immigration into India is far higher.
So, some may look 'Indian'. They come from countries next door, from where India too has illegal immigration - actually, quite a bit more than Italy.
But make sure that the Modena police do not pick up Ferrari's top CAE design teams - India is there as a Tier I partner after EDS got the sack.
Last year, India gave 45,000 work visas each from Germany and France. So it is clear where future immigrants are/will be headed to - both legal and illegal.
Hate, acts of force. Do you see your marines looking anything, other than well fed - with Italian food, under court order.
Civilized - what is that. Read my post again on Somalia and Italy, or Case 27765/09.

malq

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Sorry, Roberto, but you are totally out of your depth here.

May be Italy is still good at opera and ice-cream, but on all other counts, now behind the rest of the world.

Humbly submitted/VM

Roberto

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

Malq... i'm still laughing since i read what you wrote...

Pratap Nair

7 years ago

I agree with Mr Malik, I was in transit over the same area just a week ago and we kept well away from known fishing areas. however we had 3 greeks on board who were very upset that we were not carrying armed guards from Colombo. Please note IMO and insurance agencies have declared all areas west of longitude 78 East as high risk area and full anti piracy precautions to be enforced. It is to the discredit of the Indian state that the whole of Indian west coast is effectively declared as piracy prone area and with no protest from India. Of course it must be kept in mind that security services approved by insurance companies are UK or US based and charge about 50000USD for provding guards. It may benifit India more if the make a statement that arms found on board any ship in Inia's EEZ will be treated as per Indian custo laws or the ships having guards should transit outside EEZ. There is precedence with US demands for long range location and reporting of vessels off their coast and I am sure both Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be happy to back India in this.

REPLY

p phipson

In Reply to Pratap Nair 7 years ago

Dear Mr Nair,
You mention that IMO and the Insurance companies have declared all waters west of 78degrees east as high risk. Have they also given latitude limits for this high risk area? Since you are a sailing person can you also enlighten us if it is a fact that the entire coastal area around peninsula India is a high density fishing area and what instructions are given to Master's of commercial vessels in the 'Pilots' with regard keeping clear of fishing vessels n their nets.
If I may ask till what distance from the Kerala coast do these fishing limits extend.
Lets have facts from a Mariner.

malq

In Reply to Pratap Nair 7 years ago

Thanks for writing in.

If India had continued to wait for "international law" to solve Indian issues, then we would still not have attained our Independence.

Yes, we need better long range reporting and identification, and this business of shutting off AIS in coastal/economic zone waters needs to stop too.

Regards/VM

Roberto

7 years ago

Guys, this is just politics, nothing more... follow the money trail... probably the corrupted politicians are linked to the pirates, and are tired not to be able to board ships anymore, so the put up all this show, maybe killed the two poor fishmen... who know... nobody really care... everything will end up with a little bit of money for the families, italians at home not guilty, maybe more concern before shooting to boats, probably more freedom and some money for the corrupted police and corrupted politicians in that area... end of story

REPLY

p phipson

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Sorry Roberto but its not the end of the story as you put it. Do you have a crystal ball with you that you think that everyone being "paid off" be it the corrupt politicians, the police, et all the fact of cold blood killing will go away.
Wait till the Indian crew get out of the clutches of the ship, the owners and the management company; they will be made witnesses to the crime and will be grilled by the smart lawyers to the facts of the case.
You say it is politics; sorry I do not agree with you.
Lets see what happens unless Italy grants dual passports to the 19 Indian crew and their families and residency in Italy to keep them quiet.

Roberto

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

So you are saying that the indian crew is retained on board the ship against their will? Wow, this is a crime, you should tell it to someone....

p phipson

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Are you aware whether or not every crew member was allowed to talk to/ be examined by the Indian authorities who boarded the ship without anyone else there being present.
Are you aware if statements have been taken by the Indian authorities from each person who was a witness to the happenings.
Are you aware that there is circulating a video of what was seen.
Why are the arms & ammunation being kept out of the reach of the Indian police.
(you do not know, perhaps, but India has a civil service that is as good if not better than the British these days- see how many of them have been taken by the UN to help out worldwide).
Your allegation of corrupted police surely does not include the ones from the IPS (Indian Police Service)- and quite a few of them are there in the photographs on this incident.
Indian crew not kept on board against their will but staying in accordance with their contract with the management co/ owner/ govt authorities- whether it be 4 months or 6 months or more only the ones in the know will be able to tell us and they are keeping their mouths shut for the present.

malq

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

Most certainly the Indian crew onboard is and will be under immense pressure (in a dropping job market . . ) from a variety of people (the authorities, viz DG Shipping/MMD/Shipping Master (All exams, certificates, revalidations, courses, future employment . . . .), the owners (Dolphin Shipping and other entities linked very closely with certain GodFather type arms of the real world), the commercial managers (Scorpio Ship Management, who have put out a press release saying they have nothing to do with the ship . . .) the Maritime unions (more visible by their abscence . . .) and ofcourse the long arm of the law (that is also a fact of life). In addition, remember, the Merchant Navy is a career without any social security or safety net, once the contract is over, the seafarer is going to be on his own.

In addition, it is clear to all who can see that the Italian authorities are focussed only on (a) releasing their soldiers and (b) getting the ship free and out. All else will be and is colateral.

Why are the Indian seafarers keeping their mouths shut? Why have they not come out with their own comments? Are they not free?

Because as of now they have been tossed around from all ends, so best is to keep quiet - and that is what their contract says - keep quiet.

The complete maritime administration from Bombay - DGS, NA, Chief Surveyor, Shipping Master, Delhi bosses et all are landing up in Cochin later today to "inaugurate" the new MMD building - let us see what transpires further? I will take a bet that this visit is another excuse to, ofcourse have a great weekend in Cochin, but also to pressurise the Indian crew to keep quiet.

The entity who pays the money will call the shots, simple, and there too the stakes have gone up.

Fact remains, DGS elements were aware of this attack as early as 15th February early evening, what did they do? Likewise the ship managers in Mumbai.

As an ex-seafarer and human being, I feel sorry for the Indian seafarers onboard.

p phipson

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

Thanks malq for the news about the new MMD building inauguration. I hope someone will keep a close tab on what these "bosses" do in Kochi- hopefully they will not go near the ship/ will not try to make contact with the crew and will let the police do their job.
I am surprised to read that Scorpio Ship Management has issued a statement that they have nothing to do with the ship- well then who employed the 19 Indian crewmen, who carried out their pre joining formalities, who represented the shipping company with regard to signing the articles of agreement, etc, etc (surely not Dolphin or Scorpio in Monaco).Can someone throw light on this please.
Also intersting is to know the last 30 days prior to 15 Feb where the ship was; what cargo she carried from where to where and whether each of the ports of call were aware of arms/ ammunation on board the vessel- if so, whether they were under the control of the ship's command or the soldiers of the Italian army in their cabins.If under the former, when were they released once again to the soldiers/mercenaries.If under the latter, then were they in breach of that country laws.
Malq are you aware who has control of arms/ ammunation when such type of ships call at Indian ports and when are they released to the "guards"- after they leave port, within territorial waters or within contiguous zone waters or what.
Maybe the Customs have to answer this query as they seal everything that is "suspect".
(Olympic Flair was at Kochi anchorage; how come they had arms to shoot off petty thieves?

malq

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

I hope media and others present at Cochin take this opportunity to question the DGS and his people on the whole larger issue - what did they do so far about the Indians on the ship, what's the status on the agrrement and licence of Scorpio Ship Management in Mumbai in this matter, what is DGS' role with the fishermen in Kerala, and more - why aren't DGS pressing for a port state control inspection of the ship itself?

DGS is behaving worse than an RTO, it seems . ..

malq

7 years ago

Since there is so much talk about UNCLOS, I thought I would include some parts of a discussion on the subject on the Merchant Navy websites between some people of all nationalities.

""interpretation and application of the provisions of UNCLOS -
particularly with the Articles mentioned by him - i.e. Articles 95, 96 and
100 to 107, and 110.

At the outset, it must be understood clearly that even though India is a
signatory to the UNCLOS and has ratified that convention without
reservations, Indian national statutes continue to be applicable. If and
when there is a conflict between an Indian national statute and the
provisions of the UNCLOS or any other international convention, the former shall prevail. *UNCLOS and international conventions are NOT INDIAN LAW. *Hence the tendency to quote and rely on the provisions of UNCLOS without reference to Indian penal statutes must be curbed and the interpretations reached must be treated with circumspection.

Notwithstanding the above, I find the interpretation of the various Articles in Part VII of UNCLOS erroneous and misleading. (in many cases . . .)

Vide Article 86, the provisions of Part VII (which part is titled "High
Seas") apply to " all parts of the sea that are *not* included in the
exclusive economic zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters
of a State....." because the Italian vessel is said to have been more than 12 miles off the Indian coast, the
provisions applicable on the "High Seas" apply to the case is patently
erroneous. In other words, Part VII has no application whatsoever, if the
Italian vessel was up to 200 nautical miles off the Indian coast.

Article 95 reads: Warships on the high seas have complete immunity from the
jurisdiction of any State other than the flag State. Invited
to note that the Italian vessel was neither on the High Seas as defined
above, nor was she a Warship. Further, military personnel on board a
merchant ship do not enjoy any immunity whatsoever. Hence, even assuming the merchant vessel was on the High Seas within the meaning of Part VII / Artilcle 85, the Italian military personnel posted on board that merchant vessel had no immunity whatsoever and are liable to the same treatment as any other accused.

Perhaps () would explain on which authority he founds his
averment of "full immunity" for military personnel on the high seas, *including
in the EEZ * -- in the face of clear provisions of Articles 85 and 95.

Article 96 gives Immunity to ships used only on government noncommercial
service and appears to have no application to the present case. The vessel in question was admittedly a merchant ship engaged in commercial activity on a voyage to PG/Egypt.

Article 97 concerns Penal jurisdiction in *matters of collision or any
other incident of navigation. * By no stretch of imagination can the
incident of shooting at the crew of the fishing boat fall under the
category of collision or incidents of navigation. Perhaps *() will
explain why he relies on this Article in the present circumstances.

() then relies on Articles 100 to 107. Suffice it to extract the
following provisions regarding definition of piracy:

* Article 101. Definition of piracy*

* Piracy consists of any of the following acts:*

* (a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depreda tion,
committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private
shipor a private aircraft, and directed:
*

* (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against
personsor property on board such ship or air-craft;
*
Assuming the Italian vessel was on the High Seas, then by the above
definition, it is she and her crew / other persons on board who engaged in
piracy-- and accordingly must face all consequences of engaging in piracy
-including, but not limited to seizure of the ship under Article 105 of
UNCLOS.

+++

KUTTY

7 years ago

Asianet news TV:

Kerala High Court orders freeing of the Italian vessel on a bank guarantee of Rs. 25 lakh. The consent of investigation agencies also necessary.

REPLY

KUTTY

In Reply to KUTTY 7 years ago

In 1976 also Rs.25 lakhs

When 3 black barges were towed ashore

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/...

PPM

In Reply to KUTTY 7 years ago

So any one can come in to Indian waters and kill any indians - only to provide 25 Lakhs as Bank Guarantee, as if its a contract. Only in contracts, Bank Guarantee is required to be provided to get advance or to commit to the performance. Not for killing..Alas...what India does for its (not her) citizens?

p phipson

In Reply to PPM 7 years ago

It is very sad to read that the Kerala H Court has freed the vessel on a bank guarantee of 25 lakhs or usd 50000?? Shocking as it would not even cover the cost of the two Coast Guard vessels, one naval vessel and one aircraft going to search for this "shoot & scoot" vessel- 14/ 33/55 miles off the Indian coast depending on who is stating the distance.
Is this the amount that the HC has put as the cost of 2 Indian lives.
Will someone please elaborate what the plaint was from the Italians, what the arguments for/ against were and any comments on why this cheapie amount was ordered.
Ofc the "consent of the investigation agencies also necessary" mentioned covers a multitude of reasons why the vessel should be detained.
I know of a case where for a minor oil pollution (unproved at the time) the duty engineer & the duty officer were arrested, the ship was fined usd 150,000 and also asked to give a bank guarantee of usd 500,000 which was immediately given by the owners P & I Club.

malq

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

Yes, the levels for bond being set are kind of low, but I guess that's how it is.

In addition, the deafening silence from the Ministry of Shipping, which is also tasked with taking action on such events, is amazing - it is almost as though they have all gone into hibernation on their own subject. But then, again, maybe there is something we do not know.

Like, what exactly happened ashore in the corridors of power between 15th February 2012 afternoon and 16th February 2012 morning . . .

Aah, the suspense.

p phipson

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

The time has now come for one to ascertain whether all the 19 Indian crew members are covered by the Articles of agreement with this vessel owners (not Managers for heaven's sake) in Italy and not in Monaco. There should be someone applying under the RTI Act to get all details of these crewmembers so as to ascertain how long more is their stay on the vessel, get their addresses etc so that they can be interviewed without threat from the Captain, the owners or the ship management company.
Where are the Unions officebearers of the officers/ crew- why are they not speaking up- have they been silenced by the authorities.
At whose behest?
I note that different distances from the shore are being bandied about but is the exact position where this incident took place something secret. Whether in territorial waters or in the 24 mile cont. zone makes no difference in my opinion- can anyone go beyond the 12 mile limit and do whatever they want- today it is shooting; tomorrow it might be gang warfare being played out- there is no end to it.
Capt Bhan in Tehelka has given a biassed article- is he too a ship manager/ employment agent.

malq

In Reply to p phipson 7 years ago

Distance from the shore is not relevant in this case, nor was it in, for example, the case of the ALONDRA RAINBOW (caught and brought back from over 300 miles away . . .) The laws are clear - a crime has been committed at sea, the suspects are in Indian custody, let the law take it's course.

Can you imagine in a similar case, if the South African or Pakistani cricketers were not to be tried under Indian or British laws for match fixing?

Yes, interesting aspect on the Indians onboard, and the articles they signed. I have an ongoing battle with DGS on the dual agreements that Indians sign, one article with DGS/Shipping Master and another with the ship manager/owner, with all the ISM responsible stuff thrown in to complicate matters and remove liability.

Capt. Bhan has to say what he has to say.

rgds/VM

K B Patil

In Reply to malq 7 years ago

Regarding compensation, I would like to draw attention to the double standards. A few months ago, in a defamation case filed by a judge, a TV channel was fined Rs.100 crores. The crime was that while mentioning the name of a judge in a case, instead of showing the judge's picture, another judge's picture was shown on the channel for a few seconds. So, the two fishermen's lives are deemed to be worth a mere Rs.25 lakhs whereas the damage to a reputation (many may not agree that there has been damage since the channel has apologised for the mistake) is worth Rs.100 crores.

KUTTY

7 years ago

Did Indian cardinal intervene on behalf of Italian Catholic shooters or was it an Italian lie?

Did Prof. Thomas, Union Minister from Kerala agreed to Cardinal Alenchery that he would interfere in the matter?

(Fr. Paul Thelakkat says he talked to Alenchery who told him over phone that it was a cooked up story)

http://bharatabharati.wordpress.com/2012...

FIR has glaring loopholes?

http://expressbuzz.com/cities/kochi/fir-...

REPLY

Roberto

In Reply to KUTTY 7 years ago

This is shocking..... What the Catholic Cardinal has to do with shooting? How is he trying to intervene in the proceeding. Read more
"He was accompanied by Kerala native K.V. Thomas, a minister of state in the ministry of agriculture and in the ministry of consumer affairs.

Thomas "is a man of great moral stature and significant influence, both in the local and in the central government, who has assured me of his maximum effort. I guarantee my constant attention in the coming days," Alencherry said."
I wonder, if the same Cardinal has shown similar kind of interest in rescuing Indian searfarers anywhere?

PPM

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

Now, we see the roman catholic churuch is getting involved. I am sure they get their instructions from Vatican. This is unfair, even Jesus Christ would not have allowed this to happen.

The Inferior

In Reply to PPM 7 years ago

.

The official interpreter engaged by the Police is a Catholic Priest !!

KUTTY

In Reply to Roberto 7 years ago

The Cardinal's statement is reported in the official press of Vatican

http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.p...

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

7 years ago

Satnam. Yes indeed, the issue of ballistic evidence is the issue (I had mentioned it). But it is not as simple as it sounds.

Gallus, I think you raise a lot of good points. But the issue of why the Indian police have not established this "elementary proof" is simple.
The reason is due process. The Kerala police had to first petition a local court for an order to take custody of the weapons. This was given only on Tuesday, February 21. All weapons aboard are in the custody of Italian diplomats. Had the police simply boarded and seized the weapons (as many other countries might have), allegations of 'tampering' would have arisen - not least in India, itself.
Second, hopefully some bullets will have been recovered (see below). The discrepancy between Indian and Italian estimates about the number of shots can simply be a question of how many bullet holes there are in the Indian boat versus the number of bullets physically recovered. This will depend on firing distance and also type of weapon(s) and ammunition used. The question of possible 'overkill' from the San Marcos soldiers, is to me, one of the most disturbing aspects of the whole case. They are usually trained in a full range from Minimis to Browning M2Bs - whose bullets may not have remained in the flimsy hull of the boat, even at a distance of 500 meters.
Still, both the bullets (if any), and the weapons, will have a by-the-book custody chain in place in India.
A decade ago, in a similar high-profile case, Indian police nabbed a South African cricket demi-god for match-fixing. Everyone then laughed, even in India: Indian police. Ha, ha. But the sting operation - and the technologies used - are today a text book case. And just for reference, getting into the (federal) Indian Police Service is as tough as France's ENA.

The entire Enrica case is political, of course. There are not only jurisdictional issues between India and Italy, but between the Delhi and Kerala governments (and this is not about Sonia Gandhi).
India has a very heavy federal system, much more so than Europe. States are responsible for fisheries in territorial waters (to 12 nm), the federal government in EEZ waters beyond. The corpus of maritime laws distributing jurisdiction between Delhi and the Indian coastal States have recently been especially stressed (for various reasons). I believe V. J Mathews, a top Indian lawyer hired by the Italian government, will make a huge play on this as part of his legal strategy.

Now, given that the question of where the Indian boat was when it was shot at, is important, reports in Italy about satellite 'images' may be a bit premature. Few know that the world's largest constellation of remote sensing satellites is the Indian IRS system. So, apart from satphone location or mobile phone signal triangulation, there may well be some surprises there too.
Having said this, the question of extra-territorial action (beyond the 12 nautical mile limit on which the Italian government seems to be basing the public face of its case) has been greatly tested in Indian law, after the 1999 capture by Indian naval forces, supported by its air arm, of the MV Alandro Rainbow, a Japanese-owned, Panama-flagged vessel which had been taken over by pirates, renamed and repainted. What was then the first anti-piracy action of its kind in over 7 decades was hailed by the IMB: "It was fantastic to see the Indian authorities act under the auspices of INTERNATIONAL LAW to intercept the ship." The interception was done 300 nautical miles away, from Kochi.
However, after six years, technicalities led to the Bombay High Court dismissing the case, and freeing the pirates. So, Gallus, the Italians worried about the Indian legal system should not worry too much. This is hardly lynch mob country.

There will be some jingoism, of course - but don't forget Italy. I have an Italian working for me who translates press reports and the comments from the public. Many of the latter are clearly racist, by any measure, but let the chatter continue.
Some talk of the BJP against Sonia. May I point out to you that no one has questioned the rights of the newly appointed Cardinal from Kerala to make a public push of the Italian case.
Then, what about the routine mention of compensation, which is trifling in Euros (possibly not for very long, even in Europe), but few then understand this was the first tranche from one State (Kerala). Tamil Nadu has also added its compensation, and there will be more, possibly from Delhi. Lastly, the owners of the vessel will pay, but then again 1 crore rupees is paltry, too, in Euros. So is life cheap or are living costs cheaper ?

Finally, do not forget that the Italian Ambassador started the whole fracas with undiplomatic comments.
1. He immediately insisted that the Enrica Lexie was attacked and the firing was only in self-defence. How did he know ? Or was he already making the a priori assumptions. I mean there were two dead bodies. Enrica admitted it had fired - but never reported it. So whodunit ? [See 'good reason' clause below].
2. The Ambassador said that the Enrica came to India voluntarily. Now, whatever this be the truth or not, is unimportant. Article 111 of LOSC provides a right of hot pursuit of a foreign ship when the authorities of a coastal State have good reason to believe that the ship has violated its laws and regulations. Such pursuit can be beyond territorial waters, and may be continued even outside the contiguous zone, until the pursued ship enters the territorial sea of another State.

There are some fine points here, but the crux of the issue is the undertone of the Ambassador's statement.
Would Enrica have preferred an 'involuntary' return to Kochi - or continuing to hope no one (else) noticed ?
Had a staffer at the Italian Embassy (or the Italian media) researched Indian efforts on the Somali anti-piracy front, which on a like-for-like basis has among the world's highest success rates, or the huge spike in Indian arrests of foreign vessels in its exclusive zone since 2007, it would have been apparent that this is not some coastal state like Fiji.
Real-time incident maps, available from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) website, show India's adjoining waters to be pirate free, except for the Enrica (and Olympic Flair) shootout. The high risk zone begins near the Arabian Gulf on India's west, and Indonesia on the east. The closest attacks to Indian shores were roughly 500 nautical miles west of mainland India, but most have been foiled by the Indian Navy. To put this in perspective, attacks have also occured this year at a similar distance from the US naval base of Diego Garcia.
Indian naval aircraft like the Tu-142 fly for 12 hours at a stretch, Kochi has two squadrons of naval UAVs, and its 24 P-8s mean more reconnaissance than any European naval air arm, along with state-of-the-art magnetic anomaly detection. This is, as I said, apart from its remote sensing satellites, whose data is incidentally widely used in Europe. And then, given the context, there is also INSAT-3a, an Indian geostat satellite - the only one used for search and rescue across the Indian Ocean for several years after 2003.

Let me conclude with some comments. There is clear mismanagement of perceptions. I really do hope that the distraction of Olympic Flair will get settled. Otherwise, there will be a continuing mess on the two issues - of India's jurisdiction over Enrica versus whether Enrica shot the Indian fishermen, told no one about it, and then (tried to flee): sorry, this is what it will appear like. Even today (February 21), AGI reports that "Greek ship never asked if it had been attacked off India", although as VM proves below, this ship could not possibly have been near the scene of the shootings, and had reported it, as required - unlike Enrica.
One key question concerns the rules of engagement for the Italian security detail, and whether these were followed. The IMO (and common sense) recommends evasion as a good step. The fastest Indian fishing boats (e. g from Kerala's Samudra) have top speeds below 12 knots.
Next, I truly wonder about the advisability of seconding serving Italian soldiers seconded to merchant vessels on payment by the shipowners, and then claiming sovereign immunity if they blunder.
The legal case is an altogether different story. But the truth will emerge. Maybe the Italian press should start by reporting why it has taken so long to get hold of the weapons.

Regards

REPLY

Gallus

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

Dear Ashutosh Sheshabalaya,

Thank you for your intervention. I felt really honored by its high quality and delighted by the depth of your analysis. It is by far the best post that I have ever seen in any blog. A quick search on the Internet confirmed my impressions about your intellectual level.

Back to the facts, I am happy to hear your considerations, and more confident about a fair treatment of their case by the Indian authorities.

Thank you again for your valuable contribution,
Gallus

PS: if you still live in that European country, it happens that I have a client some 70 km from your home. I would be glad to meet you an pay you a dinner, if you wish so.



Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Gallus 7 years ago

Gallus, sure, as long as timing is okay.
I live in 3 countries, and often travel. Do you eat wild boar ? I supply a very good restaurant and can attest to quality.

Just been talking with an Italian lawyer about disquiet on the use of soldiers in Law 107, that the regole d’ingaggio are classified, and worse, that Kochi, India, had been proposed as one of the loading/unloading points for armed Italian NMPs, alongside other major world naval powers like Mauritius, Seychelles, Mozambique, Oman, Kenya and Sri Lanka.
More cross-currents. Many of the above NMP loading/unloading countries depend on India for their navies; India is supplying Dhruv helicopters, FACs and patrol boats, as well as coastal radars. Some years ago, as it happens, Indian warships protected the African Union summit in Mozambique.

I wonder if the Indian government was ever consulted on this issue of Italian NMPs in Indian waters.
You do understand that Kerala and Kochi esp. is highly sensitive for several reasons. The French know it very well, after some divers strayed - and this was a long time ago.
In 5 minutes Confitarma, and your government should have seen - NO WAY.

Rgds

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

Another Italian ship in trouble.
Indian Navy airplanes doing photo-recon.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-1...
This is off the coast of Africa. Reinforces my points above.

malq

In Reply to Ashutosh Sheshabalaya 7 years ago

Thanks, noted.

And some more questions which come to mind . . .

1) Behind the corporate veil of varying entities (Dolphin, d"Amato, Scorpio, and others) who is the real owner of the ship, and in that case, is the real owner entitled to UNCLOS protection. (My info is that the real owners are American interests - who have not signed/implemented UNCLOS . . . and also from San Marino, which also likewise has not signed UNCLOS. There is a legal point here - UNCLOS applies not only to flag state, but also to owner, port state and transit state. Enough legal strength in that, and has been used in the reverse direction often . . . )

2) What is the status of the two Italian Captains onboard the ship, which one of them was actually in command, and what was the other doing?

3) Have the Italians provided a copy of the arms and ammo manifest required as per IMO/BMP3-4, before the vessel was provided with armed guards, as submitted in Singapore and Colombo.

4) What about the statements from the Chief Officer, who is an Indian, and who was on the 4-8pm watch when the incident took place. Most navigating officers now carry their personal GPS equipment as well as charts on their laptops, have those records been seized/accessed by the Police, and if not, why not? The Indians onboard are under Indian Articles signed with Shipping Master in Mumbai, and their legal position is not covered by flag state but by state of country of origin.

+++

Meanwhile, mystery - why has the DGS not filed an FIR at an Admiralty Court in India, as yet?

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PPPs like PHFI also come under the RTI Act, says CIC Gandhi

PPPs envisage a certain degree of government control in their functioning so that the decisions taken are in accordance with the objectives for which the partnership was set up. Therefore PPPs also come within the ambit of ‘public authorities’ as defined in the RTI Act enabling citizens to know or obtain information about them, the CIC said

Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi said citizens have a right to know about PPPs (public-private partnerships), which directly or indirectly envisage a partnership with public funds. He also ruled that any entity which has received finance or grant of over Rs1 crore from the government would constitute 'substantial financing' rendering such entity a public authority under the RTI Act.

In an order issued on 14th February, the CIC said, "At present, most PPPs do not even accept the applicability of the RTI Act to them and wait for the issue to be adjudicated upon at the commission's level. For this some citizen has to pursue this matter. Such practices are required to be brought to a minimum and PPPs must comply with the provisions of the RTI Act."

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a 'public-private partnership' (PPP) that was not ready to submit itself to the RTI Act, 2005, has now finally surrendered and is to be brought under the Act. This follows the decision given by Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Shailesh Gandhi, where he asked PHFI to appoint a public information officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) under the RTI Act by 15 March 2012.

According to Kapil Bajaj, who represented Kishan Lal, the petitioner, during the hearing, PHFI has no other option but to comply with the provision of the RTI Act. "PHFI has not suddenly realised after being taken to the Information commission that it would like to 'voluntarily' submit itself to the law but because it has been clearly shown to be a public authority under Section 2(h)," he said.
 
Mr Gandhi also asked the Health Foundation to pay a compensation of Rs3,000 to Mumbai-based activist Kishan Lal. Last year, Mr Lal filed an application under the RTI Act, seeking information about PHFI. However, PHFI said that it is an autonomous body duly registered under the provisions of the Societies Registration Act of 1860 and as a PPP it is not a 'public authority' as defined under the RTI Act, 2005. The Health Foundation further stated that as it is a completely autonomous institution, is not covered under the provisions of the said Act.

During the hearing, the CIC found out that one-sixth of the 30 members of the governing board of PHFI are public servants or senior official from the Union government. PHFI, however, claimed that most of the government officials on its board are occupying the positions in their 'personal capacity'.

Terming the claim of PHFI as 'untenable', Mr Gandhi, in his order said, "It is difficult to assume that senior public servants can be on the board of an organisation like PHFI-which has numerous interactions with the government, in private capacity. In fact, this would necessarily imply a conflict of interest. The commission can only assume that such public servants must necessarily be acting on behalf of the government-when they are required to take executive decisions as members of the board-in a public-private partnership such as PHFI. Any other conclusion would be an improper slur on their integrity. It is not possible that India's leading public servants could be acting in any manner, but as representatives of the government when they are on the board of PHFI. It is also true that significant funding is provided by the government to PHFI. Hence, it is presumed that the five officials on the board of PHFI are discharging their duties as public servants."

During the hearing, Mr Lal placed before the CIC, a report submitted to the Rajya Sabha in 2007 by the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. The report stated, "The Government of India is contributing Rs65 crore, approximately one-third of the initial seed capital required for kick-starting the PHFI and for establishment of two schools of public health. The remaining amount (approximately Rs135 crore) is being raised from outside the government, namely, Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation (Rs65 crore) and from high net-worth individuals. PHFI is managed by an independent governing board that includes three members from the ministry of health and family welfare viz. secretary (H&FW); DG ICMR and DGHS. Mr TKA Nair principal secretary to the prime minister, Dr MS Ahluwalia, vice-chairman, Planning Commission; Sujata Rao, AS&PD, NACO, ministry of health; Dr Mashelkar, DG CSIR are also members of the governing board. The presence of the officials from the government would ensure that the decisions taken by PHFI are in consonance with the objectives for which PHFI has been supported by the Government of India. It is expected that all members of the governing board would ensure the functioning of the foundation as a professional organization and with complete transparency."

The CIC observed that the Parliamentary Standing Committee also assumed that the vice-chairman of the Planning Commission, principal secretary to the prime minister and other public servants were ensuring that decisions of PHFI were in consonance with the government's objectives and complete transparency. "PHFI's refusal to accept its coverage by the RTI Act seems at variance with this," he noted.

PHFI admitted that it was set up in 2006 with an initial fund corpus of Rs200 crore (at present Rs219 crore), out of which Rs65 crore were provided as grant by the ministry of health and family welfare (MH&FW). The CIC noted that the funding of about 30% from the government cannot be considered as insubstantial. "...a grant of Rs65 crore given by the government from its corpus of public funds cannot be considered as insignificant and would render PHFI as being 'substantially financed' by funds from the government," he said in the order.

Commenting that citizens have a right to know about the manner, extent and purpose for which public funds are being deployed by the government, Mr Gandhi, said, "...not every financing of an entity in the form of a grant by the government would qualify as 'substantial', but certainly a grant of over Rs1 crore would constitute 'substantial financing' rendering such entity a public authority under the RTI Act."

In another significant ruling, the CIC said that PPPs, by their very nature, stipulate certain contributions by the government such as giving land at a concessional rate, grants and monopoly rights. In cases such as grants, direct funding by the government can be easily calculated. In cases such as giving monopoly rights or land at a concessional rate, value(s) must be attached and the same would tantamount to indirect financing by the government. In other words, PPPs envisage a partnership with public funds-directly or indirectly- and therefore citizens have a right to know about the same, Mr Gandhi said.

Being a public-private partnership, PHFI has received a substantial grant of Rs65 crore from the government initially. Further, PHFI has been receiving free land and handsome financial grants from state governments for setting up 'Indian Institutes of Public Health' (IIPHs) as part of the public-private partnership. For instance, the Andhra Pradesh government provided PHFI with 43 acres of land in Rajendra Nagar area of Hyderabad free of cost and Rs30 crore in financial grant for setting up IIPH. The Gujarat government provided 50 acres in Gandhinagar and Rs25 crore in grant. The Orissa government provided 40 acres near Bhubaneswar and the Delhi government spent Rs13.82 crore on acquiring 51.19 acres of Gram Sabha land in Kanjhawala village for PHFI to set up IIPH.

"This ruling is another slap on the face of the central government, steeped as it is corruption --- for implementing a policy (PPP policy) in a manner that makes a mockery of the principle of transparency and accountability to the public enshrined in the Constitution and the Parliamentary enactment in the form of the RTI Act," added Mr Bajaj.

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COMMENTS

Jagbir Singh

7 years ago

I am informed that cooperative banks are still outside the preview of RTI? Is it correct?

REPLY

Rakshanda

In Reply to Jagbir Singh 7 years ago

In order to safeguard the interests of depositors and ensure a strong banking system, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is required to conduct an inspection of banks at periodic intervals under Section 35 of the B R Act, 1949. Such inspections directly affect the consumer, as it is his or her money that is being handled or mishandled by the banks. Co-operative Banks, which fall under dual regulation of RBI and state government, are no exceptions under such inspection, ruled the Chief Information Commission (CIC).
http://www.moneylife.in/article/inspecti...

malq

7 years ago

Great article, thanks.

Readers may also like to read these letters, from CIC to Planning Commission and response, which are self-explanatory.

http://cic.gov.in/IMP-Letters/Letter-To-...

http://cic.gov.in/IMP-Letters/Reply-From...

I have been following this by RTI at the Planning Commission, and it continues to go round and round and round some more!!

Humbly submitted/VM

A Banerjee

7 years ago

The simple logic is that, wherever public money is involved, RTI comes into play.

Jayant

7 years ago

Moneylife foundation is very alert public forum.
It is a most necessary in a situation where people in power and powerfuls dont loose any opportunity to gobble public money.
I feel BILL & MELINDA GATES foundation has ulterior motive.Thanx to people like you are there to expose them.

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