Plea to get 68 fishermen back, HC seeks status report from Centre


The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to file a status report on a petition that sought a direction to the governments to take immediate steps for the release of 68 fishermen who have been remanded in Sri Lanka in December.

A total of 43 fishermen were taken into custody by the Sri Lankan Navy on December 18. On December 19, 12 fishermen were taken into custody and 13 more fishermen were taken into custody on December 20.

A Division Bench of Justices C.V. Karthikeyan and S. Srimathy sought the report on December 31. The court took note of the fact that the Indian authorities had already sent communications to their counterparts in Sri Lanka in this regard. The court asked the authorities to keep a time limit and get the fishermen back.

Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram submitted that the charge against the fishermen was that they had poached in Sri Lankan territorial waters. The fishermen were remanded in judicial custody in local courts in Sri Lanka, he submitted.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has sought the intervention of the Centre to get the fishermen back, he said. The communication made by the State government to the Centre was submitted to the court.

Assistant Solicitor General L. Victoria Gowri submitted that Indian authorities were in talks with the Sri Lankan authorities. Diplomatic channels have been opened, she said and sought time to file a detailed report.

The petitioner G. Thirumurugan, Coordinator of the Tamilnadu Meenavar Paadhugaapu Urimai Iyakkam based in Ramanathapuram district sought a direction to the Centre and the State to take immediate steps for the release of the 68 fishermen and their boats in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities. He also complained that disinfectants were sprayed on the fishermen when they were taken into custody in Sri Lanka. This was a human rights violation, he said.



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