The Madras High Court bench has directed the Union Governments counsel to get instructions on permitting Tamil Nadu fishermen to attend the consecration ceremony of St Anthonys church at Katchatheevu islet in Sri Lanka, the Press Trust of India reported.
A division bench comprising Justices A Selvam and P Kalaiarasan gave the directions on a PIL by one K Thirumurugan from Ramanathapuram district, seeking a direction to the Centre and the state Government to permit fishermen and pilgrims from Tamil Nadu to participate in the consecration ceremony of newly built St Anthonys church in Katchatheevu.
The petitioner submitted that Katchatheevu was ceded to the island nation by India through a 1974 agreement.
He contended that the 111-year-old church was originally built by people from Ramanathapuram district as part of a vow after St Anthony saved the fishermen from getting stranded.
Even as per the agreement, the Indian fishermen had every right to attend the function, he claimed.
The consecration ceremony was scheduled to be held yesterday, but was postponed to a later date on account of the demise of J Jayalalithaa.
The petitioner blamed the Centre for not taking any step to send the fishermen there, though a representation had been made.
He prayed that the court direct the Centre to permit the fishermen to attend the function.
Sri Lanka had reportedly told fishermen of that country on December 2 that no one, except the Jaffna bishop, army and navy officials and the person who built the church would be allowed to attend the ceremony.
Fishermen from this coastal town, who have for long been pressing to attend the festival, had blamed the Centre for not taking any steps to send them there and said about 150 of them were determined to proceed to the islet.