The Madras High Court in India on Monday told the central government to take action to get the 68 Indian fishermen, who are held and remanded in custody in Sri Lanka, released.
According to Indian media, the First Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy suggested that the government explore diplomatic channels to secure the release of the fishermen, while disposing of a petition filed by Amstrong Fernando, national vice-chairman of the All India Fishermen Congress.
The judges said they can only have sympathy for the arrested fishermen because they cannot issue orders on such issues as the court lacks the territorial jurisdiction. Wondering why Indian fishermen cross the international maritime boundary, they said it may be because of the potential, and suggested that the Tamil Nadu government takes steps to find a lasting solution to the perennial issue.
Amstrong had filed a PIL seeking orders to enforce Articles 5 and 6 of the Agreement between Sri Lanka and India on the boundary in Historic Quarters between the countries.
He also sought directions to release the 68 Tamil fishermen imprisoned in the neighbouring country and hand back 21 impounded boats. The life and liberty of the arrested fishermen are at stake due to the statutory default of the respondents in monitoring the implementation of Articles 5 and 6 of the Katchatheevu Agreement, he said.