‘ICJ has no jurisdiction in Indian fishermen row’

MEA files a counter-affidavit in response to PIL filed by a forum of fishermen

The Centre has told the Madras HC that there was no treaty between India and Sri Lanka conferring jurisdiction on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve issues related to alleged human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan Navy against Indian fishermen on the high seas since 1983.

The submission was made in a counter-affidavit filed before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose who were seized of a PIL petition filed by Fishermen Care, a private body, that had sought for a direction to the Centre to refer the alleged violations to the ICJ.

Binoy George, Deputy Secretary (Sri Lanka), Ministry of External Affairs, had filed the counter-affidavit. According to him, there was neither a treaty nor any special agreement between the two countries for submitting the issue to the ICJ.

The conduct of foreign policy in the country was purely an executive function not amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution. “It is respectfully submitted that seeking remedies against a foreign State is not amenable under Article 226 under which only infraction of a legal right is remedied,” he added.

Though the petitioner forum, in an affidavit filed through its counsel L.P. Maurya, had relied upon a judgment passed by the Gujarat HC in 2011 in Jagjit Singh Aurora’s case related to the release of 54 Indian Prisoners of War from Pakistan by approaching the ICJ, the Centre contended that the judgment would not apply to the present issue on hand.

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