The Madras High Court bench in Madurai on Monday directed the Indian Coast Guard to file an affidavit on future steps and those already taken to protect Indian fishermen from attacks allegedly by Sri Lankan Naval personnel in the Palk Strait.
Hearing a batch of petitions seeking protection to the fishermen, Justice Vinod K Sharma and Justice A Selvam also asked the central and state governments to furnish in detail steps taken by them to prevent the fishermen from crossing over into Sri Lankan waters and getting attacked.
The Coast Guard should specify steps taken to protect Indian fishermen when they fish in Indian territorial waters to prevent them from crossing into Sri Lankan waters and getting killed, the court stated.
“You should ensure that they do not cross the International Maritime Boundary Line. Tell us the steps taken to protect them,” the Judges said.
When the Judges asked the Additional Solicitor General why fishermen were getting killed if they were being given protection, the ASG said Sri Lankan Navy was denying having killed Indian fishermen.
They, however, made it clear that it was not possible for the court to give any direction to the government to give protection to the Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.
Tamil Nadu government Pleader Pugazhendi said 150 FIRs had been registered regarding attacks on the fishermen, though some cases had been dropped.
He said the cases had been registered based on complaint forwarded by the fisheries department on the recommendation of the Coast Guard and it was not possible for the state police to protect the fishermen in the sea.
The Judges rejected a plea by the petitioners, including city-based advocate Stalin, for providing guns to fishermen.
“This court cannot give such directions. That will amount to court asking to wage a war.”
Petitioner’s advocate Peter Ramesh Kumar said incidents of attacks had taken place in Indian waters even after court directions to give protection to the fishermen.
The judges also asked for details of cases filed against those who crossed the IMBL and adjourned the hearing to September 28. (PTI)