New Delhi, Oct 25 IANS | 2 years ago

The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central and Tamil Nadu governments on petitions seeking protection to the fishermen from the state arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.

"Not only do they capture the fishermen but also damage their boats," and it takes months before they are freed, said a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The court also referred to the newspaper reports to this effect.

Issuing the notice returnable in four weeks, Chief Justice Sathasivam said: "We are happy that all the MPs of Tamil Nadu cutting across their party affiliations are united on the issue. We are inclined to issue notice."

As the senior counsel R. Venkataramani addressed the court on the petition, the court in a poser asked whether was "it not possible to solve the issue politically or diplomatically".

In yet another question, Chief Justice Sathasivam asked: "It it possible for the fishermen (to know) where to park their boats?

The court was moved by DMK MP A.K.H. Vijayan and M. Tambidurai of the AIADMK. The court was told that the immediate recourse is that all arrested fishermen should be released.

The Tamil Nadu government has repeatedly accused the Sri Lankan authorities of arresting fishermen from the state on the narrow sea that divides India and Sri Lanka.

The petitioners have sought directions to the central and the Tamil Nadu governments to take steps to protect the interests of the Indian fishermen and "to protect them from being killed, arrested or bodily hurt, by the Sri Lankan Navy".

It also urged the court to direct the government to take steps so that Sri Lankan Navy desist from seizing the their fishing catch, boats and equipment.

Besides seeking "necessary diplomatic steps to secure the release of Tamil Nadu fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails", the petition has favoured a permanent solution of the problem that would "create a conducive atmosphere for the fishermen to fish in Indian waters/ traditional area without fear".

It has also sought the setting up of an "expert committee to resolve the various issues faced by Indian fishermen at the hands of Sri Lankan Navy".

The petition has urged the court to direct the government to provide "interim relief on daily basis to the families of the Indian fishermen who are illegally confined by the Sri Lankan Navy, until their release and also adequately compensate the families of the Indian Fishermen for the loss of livelihood".

(Posted on 25-10-2013)