Revenue Department asked to implead itself to retrieve island
The State Assembly on Thursday adopted a unanimous resolution, calling upon the State Revenue Department to implead itself in a case filed by Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa in the Supreme Court for retrieval of Katchatheevu island.
The petition, filed in August 2008, sought the declaration of the 1974 and 1976 agreements between India and Sri Lanka on ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka unconstitutional.
When the motion was passed, members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam were not present since they boycotted the proceedings of the House as a protest against the seating arrangement made for them.
The Congress and the Pattali Makkal Katchi did not participate in the debate that preceded the adoption of the motion.
The resolution, moved by the Chief Minister, cited the Supreme Court's ruling in 1960 in the Berubari case that any agreement on the cession of Indian territory to another country should be ratified by Parliament through an amendment of the Constitution.
However, contrary to the verdict of the Supreme Court, Katchatheevu was ceded, under the 1974 and 1976 agreements, to Sri Lanka without the approval of two Houses of Parliament.
Referring to Ms Jayalalithaa filing the petition on the issue, the motion urged the Revenue Department to implead itself in the case, as a measure of strengthening the case.
Winding up the debate, the Chief Minister traced the genesis of the Katchatheevu issue. Recalling the steps taken by her since 1991, she said on several occasions she had urged the Union government and Prime Ministers, directly and through letters, to get back Katchatheevu. In September 2004, she personally presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling upon the Centre to retrieve the island through “lease in perpetuity” and restore the rights of fishermen.
“However, the Union government did not take any step to provide lasting solution to the problem of fishermen of Tamil Nadu.”
Criticising Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi, she said that even when his party was in power in the State and the Union government was dependent upon the DMK's support [2006-2011], Mr. Karunanidhi made no efforts to retrieve Katchatheevu or protect the State's fishermen from the attacks of the Sri Lankan Navy.
She alleged that consequent to the ceding of the island to Sri Lanka, hundreds of fishermen were shot dead by the Sri Lankan Navy.