A division bench comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad on ordering notice posted the case for further hearing to after four weeks.
Fishermen Care represented by its president L T A Peter Rayan had submitted that the Ministry of Environmental and Forests to examine the issues relating to Coastal Zone Management in a holistic manner had constituted an expert committee under the chairmanship of Prof M S Swaminathan in June 2004. Thereafter, based on the report submitted by the expert committee in 2005 the ministry had initiated steps to implement the recommendations of the committee.
However, based on the ministry receiving many suggestions and objections on the issue of draft coastal management zone notification, the ministry yet again constituted a four-member expert committee under Swaminathan in 2009. The committee which submitted its report in a month had recommended the enactment of a separate legislation along the line of Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006 for securing traditional fisher family rights by the relevant union ministry, the petitioner said.
He further noted that thereafter with nothing transpiring, through RTI he obtained a letter dated August 22, 2009 attested by the then Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh to the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar stating, “Since the fishery sector is listed under the Ministry of Agriculture as per allocation of business rules I would like to seek your opinion as to which ministry would initiate drafting of the above legislation to protect the livelihood and interest of the fisher folks of the country. I have no problem in getting a first draft prepared for your consideration.”
Despite the above communication, the said ministries have not acted upon as a result of which the decision taken pursuant to the recommendation of the expert committee to enact a separate legislation to protect the livelihood and interest of the fisher folks of the country has been stalled, the petitioner added and sought for a direction to initiate action for safeguarding the traditional fisher family rights.
Advocate L P Maurya appearing for the petitioner submitted that inaction of the government in not taking decision as to which ministry would initiate drafting of legislation for securing traditional and fisher family rights is depriving the fishermen of their legitimate rights.