‘Keep away from excessive steps when fishermen cross maritime boundary’

Taking cognisance of the fact that a joint working group comprising officials from India and Sri Lanka was working towards resolving issues pertaining to the fishermen crisis, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday observed that efforts must be taken to desist authorities from taking extreme measures when fishermen accidentally crossed maritime boundary.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice R. Hemalatha observed that the Indian fishermen should be educated in this regard. Gadgets could be installed in these vessels in order to sound an alarm when they crossed the maritime boundary, the judges said.

The judges took cognisance of the submissions made by the Centre and the State that the joint working group had met in December 2020 to discuss the issue. The Centre said with regard to the recent case of drowning of fishermen from Ramanathapuram, it was the Indian vessel which crossed the maritime boundary and collided with the Sri Lankan vessel.

The judges suggested that training programmes could be conducted for the fishermen and navigation systems could be made mandatory in fishing vessels. The Centre and the State submitted that efforts were being made in this regard.

The court took note of the submission and disposed of the petition filed by K.K. Ramesh of Madurai who sought a direction to the Centre and the State to take steps to bring to book those responsible for the deaths of the fishermen.

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