Madurai, Feb 12 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to apprise it of steps taken to ensure the safety and well-being of Indians abroad and asked whether it has taken effective steps to set up an Indian maritime casualty investigation cell.

The court also asked the government to find out the fate of the four men from Tamil Nadu, who were allegedly missing since September 10 last when their ship met with an accident, and file a report by February 14.

The Madurai bench comprising justices N Kirubakaran and S S Sundar took note of incidents involving Indians getting stranded, exploited, cheated, jailed or even killed in various countries and asked the Centre to submit information on how many Indians were working overseas and how many received assistance from Indian missions.

It also wanted to know from the External Affairs Ministry secretary and Home Secretary, among others, as how many Indians died overseas in the past decade and whether their bodies were brought to India.

Having posed these questions, the judges asked the government how many people had been helped by the Indian embassies in the wake of issues like exploitation, unlawful detention or seizure of travel documents etc.

The bench was hearing a petition of R Sahayaraj Vinoth of Kanyakumari who sought steps to trace the four people from Tamil Nadu, all engineers, who were missing since September 10 last when their ship met with an accident.

It was stated that the three were rescued and the fourth had died, but their whereabouts were since not known. Hence, the petitioner moved the court which asked the government to find out the fate of the four and file a report by February 14.

The court asked, “If the government has taken effective steps to set up an Indian maritime casualty investigation cell, if amendments have been made in rules to ensure the life of seafarers is made more secure and safe and in case of loss of life, their kith and kin are paid adequate compensation.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.