The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a writ petition filed by DMK president M. Karunanidhi for a direction to retrieve Kachatheevu.
A three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Ibrahim Kalifulla and Vikaramajit Sen issued notice after hearing senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for the petitioner. Initially, the CJI was reluctant to issue notice pointing out that the petition had been filed after 40 years but subsequently issued the notice.
In his writ petition, Mr. Karunanidhi also sought a declaration as unconstitutional and void the agreements between India and Sri Lanka dated 26th and 28th of June 1974 and the agreement dated 23rd March 1976 and the related communications pertaining to such agreements surrendering Kachatheevu to Sri Lanka.
He wanted a direction to protect the historic fishing rights and other traditional rights of fishermen of Tamil Nadu in the waters of Palk Strait and Palk Bay and the waters around the Island of Kachatheevu. He also sought a direction to the Union of India to take appropriate action to restore the pre-existing historic rights of the fishermen of Tamil Nadu to fish in the waters surrounding the island of Kachatheevu, to take rest, to dry their net and to worship in the Saint Antony’s Church in Kachatheevu and to attend and participate in the festival conducted in the church.
He wanted a direction to the Centre to pay compensation for the loss of life and property suffered by them during systematic attack by Sri Lankan navy on the fishermen of Tamil Nadu whose right to life, livelihood and the right to carry on fishing and other allied activities are infringed and abrogated by the island nation’s army and the navy.