Find a political and diplomatic solution to fishermen’s arrests: Supreme Court

14-underOnly a political and diplomatic solution can end the frequent arrests of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, 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 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP A.K.S. Vijayan and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai, seeking the court’s intervention.

The petitioners sought a directive to the government to take steps to secure the release of fishermen from Sri Lankan jails and to prevent attacks in the sea.

The Chief Justice told counsel for the petitioners: “These are matters in which the 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.