Katchatheevu issue: SC grants time to Karunanidhi to respond

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:18 pm IST

Published - February 20, 2014 04:23 am IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted four weeks time to DMK president M. Karunanidhi to file his response to the Centre’s reply that Katchatheevu could not be retrieved from Sri Lanka as pleaded by him in his writ petition. A three-judge Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan, M.Y. Eqbal and A.K. Sikri granted this on a request made by counsel V.G. Pragasam, appearing for the petitioner, Mr. Karunanidhi.

The Centre had made it clear that the question of retrieval of Katchatheevu did not arise as no territory belonging to India was ceded nor sovereignty relinquished to Sri Lanka.

It said “no territory belonging to India was ceded nor sovereignty relinquished since the area in question was in dispute and had never been demarcated.” Therefore the contention of Mr. Karunanidhi that Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka was not correct and contrary to official records.

The Centre said as per the two agreements no fishing rights in Sri Lankan waters were bestowed upon Indian fishermen. Under the agreements “Indian fishermen and pilgrims will enjoy access to visit Katchatheevu and will not be required by Sri Lanka to obtain travel documents or visas for these purposes. The right of access is not to be understood to cover fishing rights around the island to Indian fishermen.”

On the frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, the Centre said “at present 39 Indian fishermen are in Sri Lankan custody on account of straying into Sri Lankan waters for fishing activities. Separately 14 Indian nationals have been arrested on charges of smuggling narcotics and contrabands. Protecting the interests of Indian fishermen, including their safety, security and welfare is the Union Government’s consistent goal and the petitioner’s allegations have not been proven.” The Centre sought dismissal of the writ petition.

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