TN sanctions Rs 20 lakh for legal defence of fishermen in Sri Lanka

Judge Hammer

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned 20 lakh for providing legal aid for the five fishermen from the state who have been sentenced to death by a Sri Lankan court for allegedly peddling narcotics. The money would be used to meet their legal expenses when their appeals are heard by a higher court, said an official release.

An appeal is likely to be filed in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on Monday against the death sentence that was awarded to the five fishermen.

The fishermen were sentenced to death in a narcotics case by the Colombo high court on October 30. In a statement, the government said the Indian embassy in the island nation was putting together a legal team to handle the case and hence the money was sent to the embassy.

This is the fifth time the government is sanctioning funds for the fishermen and their families. Earlier, when J Jayalalithaa was the chief minister, the government had sanctioned money twice towards meeting their legal expenses and twice for meeting the personal expenses of their families in Rameswaram.

Soon after their arrest in 2011, the government had sanctioned 2 lakh towards legal expenses and in February 2013, 3 lakh was sanctioned.

The government also sanctioned 250 a month to the five families in August 2012 and 2 lakh per family in December 2012 for the families to meet incidental expenses, said the statement.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court Advocates’ Association (MHAA) said its members will boycott court on Monday protesting against the death sentence. It has also offered to provide legal assistance to them.

R C Paul Kanagaraj, president of MHAA, said the forum had called upon the TN government to take a cue from the Centre, and appoint an expert-advocate to defend them in the appellate courts in the island-nation. “We will constitute a five-member special team to render legal assistance to them,” said Kanagaraj.

(Times of India)