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Acknowledging the conflicting perspectives, the court instructed the JJB to commence an inquiry to ascertain the age of the accused. In the interim, the seven individuals have been transferred to a children’s home in Dongri, South Mumbai

A special court issued a directive Tuesday to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to conduct an inquiry to determine the age of seven out of the 35 pirates apprehended in an operation off the coast of Somalia last month, as they claim to be minors.

All 35 pirates appeared before special judge B D Shelke at the conclusion of their initial police remand on Tuesday. During the hearing, the seven accused, represented by their lawyers, presented documents such as birth certificates and school leaving certificates to support their claim of being minors.

However, special public prosecutor Iqbal Solkar, representing the police, raised doubts regarding the authenticity of the documents and called for their verification. He also mentioned that ossification tests conducted at a state-run hospital indicated that these seven accused are over 20 years old.

Acknowledging the conflicting perspectives, the court instructed the JJB to commence an inquiry to ascertain the age of the accused. In the interim, the seven individuals have been transferred to a children’s home in Dongri, South Mumbai.

Among the other remaining accused, one has been remanded in police custody till April 8, while the rest have been sent to a 14-day judicial custody.

In an operation lasting over 40 hours that commenced in the early hours of March 15, INS Kolkata intercepted Pirate Ship ex-MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea based on inputs received by Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region from UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations).

INS Kolkata, with the 35 apprehended pirates, returned to Mumbai on March 23.

The pirates were handed over to the police for further legal action in accordance with Indian laws.

The exercise was undertaken as part of the ongoing Operation Sankalp, wherein Indian Navy ships are deployed in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden for the safety of seafarers and mercantile trade passing through the region.

With inputs from PTI

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