Court dismisses as withdrawn 4 sets of charge sheets

Fifty-nine Sri Lankan fishermen and two others were released on orders from the Rameswaram Judicial Magistrate on Friday night.

In a late night development, C. Mohan Ram, Mudukulatur Judicial Magistrate, who was in-charge of CJM court here, ordered the release of the fishermen, lodged in Puzhal Central prison.

After the Government issued four separate orders for the release of the fishermen, the Additional Public Prosecutor filed petitions under Section 321 of Cr. PC and withdrew the cases registered by the Tuticorin Marine Police.

The court also dismissed as withdrawn the four sets of charge sheets filed against the fishermen by the Thermal Nagar police and ordered their immediate release.

The court, however, did not pass any order on the release of their ten trawlers, which are in judicial custody, court sources said.

The 59 fishermen were apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) during September-November when they were found fishing in Indian waters off Kanyakumari. Five fishermen hailing from Negombo were arrested on September 18. Twenty-six fishermen from Puttalam district were held on October 9. Twenty-four fishermen, also from Puttalam district, were arrested on October 30 and four from Kalutara district were held on November 6.

In a related development, the Rameswaram Judicial Magistrate G.M. Saravanakumar ordered the release of two fishermen, who strayed into Indian waters and arrested by the Rameswaram Town police about six months ago.