The issue relating to frequent arrests of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy should be resolved politically and diplomatically, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman made this observation while disposing of writ petitions filed by former DMK Member of Parliament A.K.S. Vijayan and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai seeking the court’s intervention to resolve the issue.
The petitioners had sought a direction to the Indian authorities to take steps to secure the release of Tamil Nadu fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails and also to prevent fishermen from being attacked on high seas.
The CJI told counsel for the petitioners: “These are matters in which court cannot intervene. Can we ask the Sri Lankan Navy not to arrest Indian fishermen who stray into their waters? These are all political issues and you raise them in Parliament. We can’t give a mandamus to resolve the issue as it falls within the domain of the government.”
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said: “One petitioner is a Deputy Speaker, the other is a former MP. These arrests happen everyday and are matters to be sorted out by Parliament.”
When Additional Advocate-General Subramonium Prasad, appearing for Tamil Nadu, submitted that the majority of such incidents occurred when Tamil Nadu fishermen went near Kachatheevu area for fishing, the AG retorted: “Kachatheevu became part of Sri Lanka in 1974. We have to go to war with Sri Lanka if we want to retrieve this island. Raising the issue in Parliament will be far more effective.”
The CJI told counsel: “Since there is a new dispensation at the Centre, you make a representation to the government with all the issues you have raised in these petitions.”
The AG said he would arrange a meeting of MPs with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Keywords: TN fishermen, Sri Lankan Navy, Supreme Court. (The Hindu)