US ship MV Seeman Ohio with 35 crew members was granted a conditional bail by a local court of Titicorin in Tamil Nadu on 27 December 2013. The ship along with the crew members was arrested on 18 October 2013 by the Tamil Nadu on the charges of illegally carrying weapons in board the vessel and straying into Indian waters. They were booked under the Arms Act and Essential Commodities Act.
K Venkatasamy, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) passed the order on the criminal revision petition filed by the Q branch of Tamil Nadu Police that challenged the conditional bail granted to the crew by Tuticorin Judicial Magistrate I, C. Kathiravan. As per the CJM the incident poses a challenge to the national security and the conditional bail granted was against the orders of the higher courts, which includes the Supreme Court.
The CJM observed that the order of granting bail was shocking as it involved the security of the nation. It also said that the bail would be granted after obtaining an assurance from the respective embassies that they will be available during the investigation. He also said that it was a failure of the Judicial Magistrate to find out that weather the investigation was over or the charge sheet was ready.
The conditional bail was granted by the I C Kathiravan, the Judicial Magistrate on 26 December 2013 after the crew argued in its bail plea that the Q branch of the state police failed to file a charge sheet even after 60 days of their arrest.
Earlier, their bail pleas had been rejected by a court in Tuticorin and the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court dismissed the bail petitions filed as the probe was in the initial state and their bail would have been affected the investigation.
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