The Supreme Court on Monday granted four weeks’ time to DMK president M. Karunanidhi and the Tamil Nadu government to file their response to the Centre’s reply that Katchatheevu could not be retrieved from Sri Lanka.
A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and Arun Mishra granted time on a request by senior counsel R. Viduthalai, appearing for Mr. Karunanidhi, the petitioner. The UPA government’s stand was that retrieval of the islet did not arise as no territory of India was ceded, nor sovereignty relinquished, to Sri Lanka. The NDA government had not revised this affidavit so far.
The affidavit said: “No territory belonging to India was ceded nor sovereignty relinquished since the area was in dispute and had never been demarcated. Therefore, Mr. Karunanidhi’s contention that Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka was not correct and contrary to official records.”
The UPA government had said that under the two agreements, no fishing rights in Sri Lankan waters were bestowed on Indian fishermen. “Indian fishermen and pilgrims will enjoy access to Katchatheevu and will not be required by Sri Lanka to obtain travel documents or visas. The right of access is not to be understood to cover fishing rights around the islet…”
On the frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, the Centre had said: “Protecting the interests of Indian fishermen, including their safety, security and welfare, has been the government of India’s consistent goal, and the petitioner’s allegations have not been proven.”
The Centre sought the dismissal of the petition. (The Hindu)