A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed in the Madras High Court today seeking that the issue of attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy be referred to International Court of Justice (ICJ). When the PIL by an NGO came up, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sunder directed Assistant Solicitor General Su Sreenivasan and state government pleader MK Subramanian to get instructions on the plea. The petitioner, “Fisherman Care”, represented by Peter Royan, prayed for a direction from the court to refer the matter of “human rights violation committed by Sri Lankan Navy with impunity for the past 34 years against fishermen of India” to ICJ for taking action. He also alleged that the Lankan Navy had all these years violated the 1974 agreement entered into between India and Sri Lanka.
On his part, the Assistant Solicitor General submitted that in the past three years, one fisherman from India had lost his life, that too because of crossing the territorial jurisdiction. Due to effective steps taken by the Union government and continuous negotiations held at the diplomatic level, damage is under control now, he submitted.
Sreenivasan said that he would file a detailed counter in this regard. The counsel for the petitioner, Raghavachari, submitted that in a similar case as per the Gujarat High Court’s order, the Indian government was directed to approach the ICJ, which was also upheld by the Supreme Court.
In the case of Tamil Nadu fishermen, though they faced human rights violation by the Lankan Navy and several had lost their lives, the Centre had not approached he ICJ. Hence, a direction to this effect was needed to the Union and state governments, the counsel for the petitioner submitted.