Indian court throws out claim against Dutch queen
An Indian judge has thrown out a claim for damages against the Queen of the Netherlands over a ship that capsized more than 20 years ago, media reported on Tuesday.
Shipping company owner S.K. Dhondy filed the suit against Queen Beatrix and the government in New Delhi following the loss of the vessel, the MV SKD-1, in port in Mangalore, southwest India, in November 1989.
Dhondy claimed that the royal was liable as the vessel had been repaired by a Dutch firm while it was on lease to a state-run Indian dredging firm.
"The repairs were not carried out properly thus resulting in the ship's capsize. As (the repairer) was a subject (citizen) of Netherlands, that country's Queen is answerable in terms of damages," the suit stated.
Indian newspapers said on Tuesday that a judge at the Bombay High Court dismissed the case on January 20 because Beatrix has diplomatic immunity.
The queen had filed an application to dismiss the case in 2004, claiming an abuse of process and that it was an attempt "to implicate a sovereign on frivolous grounds".
Lawyer Neeta Rajda, representing the monarch, also said the claim was filed "after much delay" five years after the ship capsized.
Dhondy's son took over the case after his father died.
Long-running court cases are a feature of India's judicial system, particularly in civil matters.
A shortage of judges, the lack of a settlement culture and the ease with which cases can be filed, even on trivial matters, has led to a chronic logjam.
Last year one senior high court judge said it would take 320 years to clear the 31.3 million cases waiting to be heard across the country -- provided no new cases are filed in the meantime.
© 2011 AFP