MADURAI: The Madras high court on Wednesday sought a status report from the Centre, on a plea which sought a direction to the central and state governments to take steps for the release of 68 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan naval forces in December.
During a vacation sitting on Wednesday, a division bench of Justice C V Karthikeyan and Justice S Srimathy sought a status report from the Centre, after taking into account that the government had already sent communications to the Sri Lankan government in this regard.
During the course of hearing, advocate general R Shunmugasundaram, appearing for the state, submitted that all the fishermen had been remanded in judicial custody by courts in Sri Lanka. He submitted that the charges against the fishermen were that they had poached into the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. He further submitted that chief minister M K Stalin had written to the Centre seeking its urgent intervention for the immediate release of the fishermen.
Assistant solicitor general L Victoria Gowri, appearing for the Centre, submitted that Indian authorities had opened diplomatic channels for talks with the Sri Lankan authorities in this regard. She sought time to file a detailed report on the steps taken by the Centre.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by G Thirumurugan, who is the coordinator of the Tamil Nadu Meenavar Urimai Padukappu Iyakkam in Ramanathapuram district.
In his petition, Thirumurugan stated that a total of 68 Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities between December 18 and December 20. He stated that disinfectants had been sprayed on the fishermen by the authorities after they had been taken to Sri Lanka. This was a human rights violation. The video of the fishermen doused in a chemical solution had gone viral in social media, he said.
He sought the release of the fishermen and their boats.
The case was adjourned to December 31.