KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday issued notices to the ministry of maritime affairs, maritime affairs secretary, director general, shipping master of government shipping office, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general (immigration wing), the federal ombudsman of Pakistan and the deputy attorney general on a constitutional petition filed by counsel Agha Zafar Ahmed on the behalf of a mariner, Syed Murawat Haider.
The court has summoned the respondents in the second week of March.
The petition filed by Murawat through counsel stated that the Pakistani shipping master was violating the Pakistan Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 2001 with particular reference to Sections 123 and 127, in which it was demanding the agents to force Pakistani seafarers joining foreign ships to sign Pakistani article of agreement at the shipping office and two yearly medical checkups at port health Karachi in a bid to enable his staff to blackmail the seafarers and get illegal gratification.
Stating that the illegal and unlawful demands of the respondents were a major cause of loss of thousands of jobs and millions of foreign exchange remittances, the petitioner claimed that the outdated system was against the clear wordings of the MSO, 2001.
According to the petition, the ministry of maritime affairs secretary or the shipping master had no jurisdiction over the foreign flag ships while they were not in Pakistani ports and the laws of the ‘Flag’ state applies to such foreign vessels. In terms of section 127 of MSO, 2001 it was not mandatory for Pakistani seamen to sign-on a Pakistani article of agreement to join foreign flag ship when the master, owner or agent of a foreign ship engages a Pakistani seaman.
The petition further states that the FIA director general (immigration wing) posted on the airports do not permit Pakistani seamen to board any aircraft despite the fact that the seamen intending to join foreign vessel possess all the relevant documents.
The Immigration Ordinance, 1979 does not apply to the departure of a person who is engaged as a crew on board a foreign vessel in accordance with (erstwhile Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 1979) now MSO 2001 as per section 27(iv) of the Immigration Ordinance, 1979.
The aforesaid act of the Respondents also violates Articles 18 and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which fundamental rights are guaranteed by the Constitution.