Refusing the Centre's plea, a bench of justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad, however, said it was "keeping open" a question of law on the issue and no interim order can be passed by it at this stage.
"We wonder how vigilant you are that your naval ship has been hit by a merchant ship," the bench remarked, in response to Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising's plea to stay the Bombay high court's order to release the Cyprus ship.
The ASG's repeated plea that the loss to the Indian government was phenomenal and the lost naval ship was "only one of its kind in the country" failed to convince the apex court. "So we have lost even that one ship," the bench retorted while declining to interfere with the order of a division bench of the Bombay high court.
The bench also asked the counsel to explain as to what the government was going to achieve by prolonged detention of the merchant ship.
To this the counsel submitted that if the ship owner failed to indemnify the loss then the government of India can auction the ship and recover the loss. But this argument too failed to convince the court which refused to stay the high court order.
The two ships had collided at the Mumbai port on January 31 last year. The Cyprus-flagged MV Nordlake was exiting the harbour as the Indian warship INS Vindhyagiri was trying to navigate its way in. A major blaze had broken out on the Indian naval vessel following the accident.