MUMBAI: A court here has rejected the bail plea of two officials and a director of the commercial barge that sank off Mumbai coast during Cyclone Tauktae in May, in which 71 persons lost their lives.
Sessions judge U M Padwad on Friday denied bail to Prasad Rane, office administrator of PAPAA Shipping, Nitin Singh, one of its directors, and Akhilesh Tiwari, the company’s technical superintendent.
The detailed order was made available on Saturday.
As per the case details, barge P305, which was anchored in the deep sea, could not sustain the impact of the severe winds, due to which its anchors got detached and ultimately, it sank.
Out of 261 members on board, 71, including the barge’s captain Rakesh Ballav, lost their lives.
Following the tragedy, the chief engineer of the barge had lodged a complaint, alleging that the captain had ignored the safety instructions and warnings.
After the investigation, Rane, Singh and Tiwari were arrested.
The trio’s previous bail plea had been rejected by a magistrate court.
In the plea before the sessions court, the accused had claimed that AFCON, the company that engaged the barge, the staff and the ONGC had the authority to take any decision on the movement and removal of the barge.
The captain had all the weather updates at his disposal and it was his decision to stay at the sea, the plea stated.
The accused further submitted that they had been in constant touch with the captain, and had done their best to take every care of the barge and its crew.
The vessel was well equipped with all the security and safety devices, and the incident was merely an accident, they claimed.
The prosecution, however, submitted that the accused did not exercise proper caution and control over the situation.
Despite being aware of the severity of the cyclone, the trio let the captain go ahead with his decision to stay at the sea, the prosecution argued.
The accused had every knowledge that their such a decision would bring forth a disastrous result, yet they did nothing to save the lives of the crew members on the barge, it added.
The court, while rejecting the bail plea, noted that the narration of the chief engineer of the barge about the incident indicates that it was more a matter of negligence than a genuine human error of judgment.