They were held by the Indian Coast Guard for fishing 70 nautical miles off Kanyakumari coast

The Chief Judicial Magistrate Court here remanded 26 Sri Lankan fishermen, arrested by the Marine Police on Thursday after they were apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) for fishing in the Indian waters, in judicial custody till October 25.

The ICG personnel attached to the Tuticorin Station apprehended the fishermen and seized their four trawlers on Wednesday, when they were fishing 70 nautical miles off Kanyakumari coast.

They were handed over to the Tharuvaikulam Marine Police on Thursday.

When Tharuvaikulam Marine Police Inspector P.S. Rameshkumar produced them before the court here on Friday, CJM N. Dharman remanded them in judicial custody and ordered that they be lodged in the Palayamkottai Prison. The CJM also extended till October 25 the judicial remand of five Sri Lankan fishermen, who were arrested on September 18. They would also be lodged in the Palayamkottai Prison.

These fishermen, hailing from Negombo in Sri Lanka, were lodged in the District Jail in Srivaikundam, and the police wanted to shift them to Palayamkottai for want of space in the district jail.

The police also filed an application requesting the CJM to hear the accused through video conferencing on October 25.

The 26 fishermen hailing from Thoduvanai in Puthalam district of Sri Lanka told the police that they got drifted and strayed into the Indian waters.

They were arrested under section 14 of the Foreigners Act and sections 310, 714 and 15 (c) of the Marine Zone Act.

The police said 13 fishermen had set out for fishing in two boats on September 11 and 13, while 13 others had ventured into the sea in two boats on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The first two boats had a total catch of 4,300 kilogram of Soorai fish.

The catch was auctioned and the money was remitted to the government treasury, the police added.

Each of the four boats were valued at Rs.70 to Rs.90 lakh, the police said.

The fishermen had to be brought all the way here for remand as there were only two jurisdiction courts for the Marine Police in the entire Tamil Nadu coast. While the CJM Court here was the jurisdiction court for the Marine Police from Nagapattinam to Kanyakumari, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Chennai was the jurisdiction court from north Chennai to Nagapattinam.