Pleas for protection of Tamil Nadu fishermen dismissed
By Express News Service - MADURAI
03rd November 2012 08:50 AM
A division bench of the Madurai Bench of the High Court has dismissed a batch of public interest litigations that sought directions to the Centre to provide Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard protection to Tamil Nadu fishermen venturing into the sea between India and Sri Lanka.
The petitions also sought for a review of the pacts entered into by India and Lanka on Katchatheevu and on the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
“It is not open to the courts to have judicial review in matter concerning foreign policy relations with other countries,” Justices Vinod K Sharma and A Selvam ruled while dismissing the writ petitions.
The petitioners had stated that as per official records, nearly 500 fishermen from TN have been killed in the past 10 years, whereas in reality, the toll was over 1,000. Therefore, additional coast guard vessels should be deployed in the Indian Ocean.
The Centre said that whenever the Indian fishermen were apprehended by Lankan authorities, it had intervened, got them released and repatriated expeditiously. It was stated that the claims about death toll were mere allegations which have not been proved. The Deputy Director General (Operations & Coastal Security) of the Indian Coast Guard filed an affidavit stating that the State Fisheries Department might seek the help of mobile phone operators to extend the network reach in the Palk Bay up to the IMBL, for the fishermen who could make distress calls .
The judges said, “It is the case of petitioners that the Lankan Navy is violating the Indian borders. This is a policy decision to be taken by the Government and does not fall within the purview of Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The counter filed by Union of India shows that steps are being taken for fishermen’s safety. This court in exercise of writ jurisdiction cannot issue directions to the respondent to deploy Indian Air Force or Indian Navy, to act against Lankan Navy.”
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