Judicial Proceedings Halted Against AdvanFort Charges
Prosecution for the charges of trespassing and firearms possession against AdvanFort stopped until quash petition hearing.
The Madras High Court started hearing last Tuesday on an appeal filed by AdvanFort to quash charges against the U.S.-based maritime security firm’s possession of firearms, and the court has granted orders enabling the charge sheet to be “stayed”.
In legal terms having the charge sheet “stayed” means that the current judicial proceedings are suspended or that the prosecution is stopped until certain events or actions occur. With the case of the charges against AdvanFort’s crew members, the proceedings are stopped until the quash petition hearing scheduled on June 10, 2014.
The Court has granted interim orders involving the Arms Act and this have resulted in the charge sheet being stayed, which means that the case cannot proceed in the mean time until it is heard by the High Court.
In addition to the quash hearing, AdvanFort has filed a petition to exempt the 35 from appearance before the Magistrate for every 15 days, which the Court has granted after the hearing.
According to Advanfort, 35 of its maritime guards were arrested in October 2013 for possessing firearms in Indian territorial waters. The vessel Master maintains that they were in international waters. Marine experts argue that a vessel might have drifted due to winds factor, as there was a nearby cyclone storm at that time, but this should have been treated as force majuer. Last March, 2014, a provisional ruling from the Indian court has ordered 33 of the 35 Seaman Guard Ohio crew members to be released on bail.