DMK president M. Karunanidhi on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Government of India to retrieve Katchatheevu as part of Tamil Nadu and consequently an integral part of India.
In his petition, the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister sought a declaration that the agreement between India and Sri Lanka dated June 26 and 28, 1974 and the agreement dated March 23, 1976, and the related communications pertaining to such agreements, surrendering Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka, as unconstitutional and void.
Mr. Karunanidhi wanted a direction to protect the historic fishing rights and other traditional rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the historical waters of Palk Strait and Palk Bay and the historic waters around the island of Katchatheevu. He sought a direction to the Union of India to take appropriate actions to restore the pre-existing historic rights of the fishermen of Tamil Nadu to fish in the waters surrounding the island, take rest, dry their net, worship in the Saint Antony’s Church there and participate in the festival in the church.
He wanted a direction to the Centre to pay compensation for the loss of life and property suffered by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lanka’s systematic attack on them. Tamil Nadu fishermen’s right to life, livelihood and the right to carry on fishing and other allied activities were infringed and abrogated by the Sri Lankan army and the navy, he said.
He said in his petition:
“The issue involved in this writ petition is the unconstitutional ceding of the island of Katchatheevu by the Prime Minister of India to the Island nation of Sri Lanka, completely disregarding the constitutional provisions and totally ignoring the federal polity of our country which is an integral part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
“Katchatheevu is an uninhabited island located about ten miles North East of Rameswaram on the Indian side and Nine miles of south of Delft Island on the Sri Lankan side. It has an area of 285.20 acres and is one mile and 300 yards at its widest. It has no permanent population and does not possess any economic wealth. But the sea waters surrounding it are rich in marine life, especially prawns and a favourite fishing place for Indian fishermen in the districts of Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam, who use the island as their resting place while drying their nets.
“The agreement is ex-facie unconstitutional for want of constitutional amendment under Article 368 of the Constitution and being inconsistent with the law declared by the Supreme Court in ‘Berubari Case’ and this agreement is liable to be declared as non est, void and unconstitutional.”