Kerala High Court Grants Bail to Senior Port Officials Accused in Tanur Boat Tragedy

LI Network

Published on: 25 July 2023 at 12:25 IST

The Kerala High Court,decided to grant bail to two senior port officials who were arrested in connection with the tragic Tanur boat accident that resulted in the loss of 22 lives earlier this year.

The case, titled Sebastian Joseph v. State of Kerala & Anr. and Prasad VV v. State of Kerala & Anr., pertains to a devastating incident on May 7 when a recreational boat capsized in Malappuram district’s Tanur, claiming the lives of 22 individuals, including several children.

Among the accused arrested in the case were Sebastian Joseph, Chief Surveyor of Kerala Maritime Board, and Prasad VV, Senior Port Conservator at Beypore Port.

The Kerala High Court, while granting bail, took into consideration the fact that both officials had already been in custody for over 40 days. Additionally, the court noted that they were already suspended from their positions, which reduced the likelihood of tampering with evidence.

The port officials faced various charges under the Indian Penal Code, including allegations that they allowed the boat’s owner to operate the vessel without fulfilling statutory requirements.

It was claimed that the boat was permitted to operate even before its registration process was completed. Furthermore, the officials were accused of overlooking significant flaws in the boat’s design when issuing a certificate of survey.

Prosecution also argued that the boat in question had been originally a fishing boat that was later converted into a passenger boat, which was not permitted by law. The state’s counsel expressed concerns that granting bail might lead to evidence tampering.

However, the port officials maintained their innocence, asserting that they were unjustly implicated without any substantial evidence to prove their involvement in the tragedy.

After considering all aspects of the case, the High Court granted bail to the two port officials, on the condition that they fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation and trial.

The legal representation for the accused officials was provided by advocates S Rajeev, V Vinay, Prerith Philip Joseph, MS Aneer, Sarath KP, and Anilkumer CR. On behalf of the State, Senior Advocate Gracious Kuriakose, assisted by Senior Public Prosecutor Suresh, presented their arguments in court.

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