Supreme anger as TAG-7 sneaks out of India

Vol 19, PW 9 (14 Jan 16) People & Policy

Supreme Hydro Engineering is accusing fellow Mumbai-based oilfield service company TAG Offshore and Mumbai Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) authorities of contempt of court after TAG's anchor handling tug TAG-7 left Indian waters in breach of an arrest order from the Bombay High Court.

Served on December 11, 2015 by judge SJ Kanthawala, the arrest warrant was in response to Supreme's claim of Rs3.37cr ($503,000) against TAG for unpaid bills for the supply of diving systems and personnel when another TAG vessel (TAG-6) was carrying out a Mumbai High inspection for ONGC in 2014-15. Lawyers for Supreme immediately despatched the court order to customs officials and JNPT where TAG-7 was anchored.

But despite this TAG-7 was moved out of Indian waters early on December 12, 2015 morning. Three days later furious Supreme approached the court demanding punitive action.

Judge Kanthawala pointed out that port authorities acknowledged receipt of the arrest order at 6:30pm (IST) on December 11, 2015 but still allowed TAG-7 to sail off. Asked to explain, port officials blamed a communication gap.

When contacted TAG denies it violated court orders. "All banks were closed on December 12, 2015 so we gave a post-dated cheque to the court that morning (as security for the unpaid bills) and on December 14, 2015 submitted a bank guarantee to the court," says TAG.

"We're disputing Supreme's claim."