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Right to life cuts across national barriers: SC

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 23 (UNI) The Supreme Court today held that the fundamental right to life guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution is applicable universally cutting across national barriers.

The ruling was handed down by a bench comprising Mr. Justice H.K.

Sema and Mr. Justice A.R. Lakshmanan while directing the Indian authorities to pay the wages forthwith to all the crew members of the vessel Kobe Queen-1 also known as Gloria Kopp at any rate not later than three months from the date of this judgment through the consulate of the country concerned.

The vessel registered in Panama with its crew members belonging to Ukraine was spotted in Indian territorial waters on Dec. 22,1999 by Customs Department. On Dec.24,1999 interim order for the arrest of the vessel was passed and receiver was appointed for valuing the cargo and to take possession of it. The master of ship committed suicide on the same day.

The crew were kept under arrest till Jan.1,2000.

The ship was sold for Rs.2.36 crores through tender sale and the cargo was auctioned by the Customs and a total sum of Rs. 18.75 crores was realised.

Justice Lakshmanan writing the 33-page judgment observed,"This court in various judgments beginning from R.C. Cooper and Maneka Gandhi's case etc. has laid down that deprivation of rights is subject to judicial review. The state action is restrained by principles of reasonableness , justice and fair play. The principles enshrined in Article 21 are equally applicable to a foreigner as it is to a citizen." The apex court said," We therefore, unhesitantly hold that all the seamen who were on board the vessel Kobe Queen I also known as Gloria Kobb are entitled to their full wages and perks." While setting aside the impugned Madras high court judgment, the Supreme Court noted,"The high court has failed to appreciate that India has travelled very far from 1950 and that the courts have given way to a dynamic constructive approach in aspect of social justice while referring to International Conventions etc." The appeal was filed by the chief officer of the vessel O.

Konavalov on behalf of crew members against the high court judgment dated Jan.10, 2001 holding that maritime lien for wages on the ship extinguishes on the ship being confiscated by the government.

UNI AKS/SC RP KN1753

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