Courts can neither permit Indian fishermen to enter foreign seas in violation of International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) agreement between India and Sri Lanka nor direct the Centre to deploy Indian Air Force planes and Navy vessels over the IMBL to keep a check on the Sri Lankan Navy as both the issues were foreign policy matters not falling within the purview of judicial review, the Madras High Court Bench here has held.

A Division Bench of Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma and Justice A. Selvam gave the ruling, dismissing public interest litigation petitions seeking different reliefs such as providing firearms licences to the Indian fishermen, determining the coastal zone by considering Katchatheevu as a natural territory annexed to India, a direction to the State to provide guns to all fishermen, ordering Air Force cover over the IMBL and taking up the dispute with the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The judges also rejected the submission of the petitioners that the Indian fishermen were entitled at least to ‘innocent passage.’

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