The Madras High Court has dismissed two public interest writ petitions seeking security to Indian fishermen near Sri Lankan waters and a judicial probe into the alleged failure of the Coast Guard to prevent attacks on Indian fishermen.
Noting that it has no jurisdiction to pass orders on an issue involving bilateral relations between two neighbouring countries, the first bench comprising Chief Justice M Yusuf Eqbal and Justice TS Sivagnanam on Thursday dismissed the PILs filed by LTA Peter Rayan of Chennai, the Times of India reported.
In the first petition, Rayan wanted a direction to the Union defence ministry to provide adequate protection to Tamil Nadu fishermen. He said the fishermen enjoyed traditional fishing rights in the waters between India and Sri Lanka as guaranteed under the 1974 bilateral agreement between the two countries.
In his second PIL, he sought a direction to the Centre to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of a high court judge to inquire into Coast Guard’s failure to prevent human rights violations by the Sri Lankan Navy on Tamil fishermen since 1983. He wanted an assessment of the loss of human lives and property, and urged the court to direct the Centre to rehabilitate the families of the victims.
“The prayer, if granted, would amount to issuance of a direction to persons/organisations who are situated outside the jurisdiction of this court,” the judges said, adding that the writs issued by the court could not run beyond the territories subject to its jurisdiction.
As for senior counsel Vijay Narayan’s submission that directions should be issued to ensure the security of fishermen, the judges said there were few material facts available with the petitioner. Noting that the court lacked territorial jurisdiction to issue such a direction, the judges said: “This court cannot be called upon to issue a direction upon the respondents (Centre) to enforce certain fishing rights between the two countries.”