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THE THOOTHUKUDI MAVATTA THEN PAGUTHI NATTUPADAGU KATTUMARA MEENAVA SAMUTHAYA SANGAM V/S THE MECHANISED BOAT FISHING & OTHERS , decided on Thursday, February 13, 2003.
[ In the High Court of Madras, Writ Petition Nos. 39122, 40864 to 40866, 45822 of 2002 . ] 13/02/2003
Judge(s) : P. SATHASIVAM
Advocate(s) : Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram, Senior counsel, Mr. Joseph Thatheus Jerome . Mr. N.R. Chandran, General, Assisted by Mr. D. Krishnakumar.
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    Constitution of India ?? Article 14 & 226 ?? Fishing Vessels - It is the case of the respondents that any prudent seafarer will know the practice of soundings and read the nautical charts. There is no dispute that recent innovation of navigational instruments to be fitted in deep sea fishing vessels such as Global Positioning System (GPS) will ascertain the actual position of the boats on the sea. In so far as the deletion of Rule 6 (vi) is concerned inasmuch as the public policy is to encourage the traditional sector to take up motorisation of country crafts the petitioner Association cannot claim the same as violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since the two categories namely traditional craft fishermen and mechanised fishing boat fishermen are not belonging to the same classes of people.Para 18 Tamil Nadu Fishing Regulation Act 1983 ?? Section 15 - Section 15 gives powers to various officers to enter and search fishing vessel. As per that provision if the Authorised Officer has reason to believe that any fishing vessel is being or has been used in contravention of any of the provisions of the Act or of any notification issued or rule made there under or any of the conditions of the licence granted under the Act enter and search such fishing vessel and impound such fishing vessel and seize any fish found in it. In the light of the overwhelming power the action even on presumption and impounding is a necessary consequence hence the impounding of the fishing vessel or the ban on sale of subsidized diesel to mechanised vessels trying to operate as deep sea vessels pursuant to their letter dated 04-12-2000 in contravention to the licence conditions and timing prescribed under the Act and the Rules are justifiable.Para 19     Since the issues in all these Writ Petitions are inter-connected they are being disposed of by the following common order. Thoothukudi Mavatta Then Paguthi Nattupadagu Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya Sangam Tiruchendur has filed W.P.No. 39122 of 2002 seeking to issue a Writ of Mandamus directing the respondents 2 to 7 to strictly implement the time schedule distance licence and registration rules by enforcing Sections 6 7 9 10 15 16 18 of the Tamil Nadu Act 8/83 in so far as the petitioners Sangam are concerned as against the members of the first respondent namely Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association Tuticorin and particularly against the respondents 8 to 12 therein. 2. Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association Tuticorin through its President has filed W.P.No. 40864/2002 questioning the order of the Director of Fisheries Chennai-6/2nd respondent dated 22-5-2002 and the consequential order of the Assistant Director of Fisheries/4th respondent dated 31-10-2002 in so far as it relates to the complement of crew in deep sea fishing vessels are concerned and quash the same and direct the respondents 2 to 4 to issue necessary licence to the deep sea fishing vessels owned by the members of the petitioner Association without insisting upon the complement of crew as stated in the impugned order. 3. Questioning the notification of the Government of Tamil Nadu Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department Chennai-9/first respondent herein in G.O.Ms.No. 166 dated 22-8-95 particularly Clause 2 of the notification in the said Government Order the very same Association has filed W.P.No. 40865/2002. 4. The same Association has filed W.P.No.40866/2002 questioning G.O.Ms.No.1 dated 05-01-2000 issued by the State of Tamil Nadu represented by the Secretary Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department/first respondent herein in so far as Clause 4 (c) of the said G.O. is concerned deleting Rule 6 (vi) of the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983 and quash the same. 5. Mechanised Board Fishing Development Association has filed W.P.No. 45822/2002 seeking to quash the order of the Assistant Director Fisheries Tuticorin/third respondent dated 4-12-2002 issued to the members of the petitioner and consequential letter of the Assistant Director of Fisheries Tuticorin dated 13-12-2002 to the Manager Tamil Nadu Fishing Development Corporation Tuticorin/4th respondent and restrain the respondents 1 to 6 from interfering with the lawful fishing activity of the members of the petitioner as long as they comply with the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Fishing Regulation Act 1983. 6. Questioning the order of suspension dated 10-1-2003 suspending fishing vessels by the Joint Director of Fisheries Tuticorin/2nd respondent the same Association has filed W.P.No. 2066 of 2003. 7. Since Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association has projected their case in a more detailed manner I shall narrate their case as found in the affidavit filed in support of W.P.No. 40864/2002. For convenience I shall refer the Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association as petitioner Association the Thoothukudi Mavatta Then Paguthi Nattupadagu Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya Sangam as Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya Sangam and other Government Officers by referring to their designation. It is stated that there are about 100 members in the Association who are either Deep Sea Fishing Vessel owners or Mechanised Boat owners. The Association is restricting the prayer in W.P.No.40864/2002 only in so far as 69 members who are all owners of Deep Sea Fishing vessels. The vessels of the members of the Association are registered with the State Government and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA in short). The members of the Association are traditional fishermen. With the advent of technology with great effort the members of the Association have acquired mechanised boats and deep sea vessels for fishing at an investment of about Rs.15 lakhs. They availed loan from private financiers and banks and purchased the mechanised boats. The Tamil Nadu Legislature has passed an Act called Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act for the regulation restriction and prohibition of fishing by fish vessels in sea along the whole part of the coast line of the State. The term mechanised fishing vessels is defined in Section 3(g) of the said Act. Section 5 deals with the power to regulate restrict and prohibit certain matters within specified area. The Schedule to the Act deals with conditions subject to which a mechanised fishing vessel shall carry on fishing operation beyond three nautical miles. The State has framed the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983 to regulate restrict and prohibit certain matters within specified area. Rule 6 (vi) of the said Rules stipulates that the non-mechanised fishing vessels shall be used for fishing within 3 nautical miles from the shore and shall go for hood and line fishing and boat seine. There has been constant clashes between the country boat owners and the mechanised/deep sea vessel owners. In the circumstances the State Government has been issuing orders under Section 5 of the Act regulating the fishing operations of the various types of fishing vessels. The said notification which applied to mechanised vessels sought to be implemented in the case of deep sea fishing vessels without any jurisdiction or justification. The deep sea fishing vessels were registered with MPEDA as well as with the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department. MPEDA registered vessels under Central Act 13 of 1972. The deep sea vessels measure 15 metres or more with HP 120 or more as defined under the Tamilnadu Act 8 of 1983. The members of the Association own vessels having a length more than 15 metres but less than 20 metres with propulsion power of more than 120 HP but less than 200 HP. 8. The petitioner is bound to comply only with Section 76 (4) (g) since they are vessels fall within the said category. If there are any violation of the Merchant Shipping Act the Central Government has authority and competence to take action under the Act. The Government of Tamil Nadu issued an order in G.O.Ms.No. 166 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (FSV) dated 22-8-95 which imposes a condition in clause 1 that the deep sea fishing vessel shall be equipped with life saving appliances fire fighting equipments and shall have full complement of crew. Right from 1995 when the Government Order was issued all the deep sea vessels had an engine driver as engineer-in-charge. The Government thereafter issued another order in G.O.Ms.No. 1 dated 05-01-2000. By the said Government Order Rule 6 (vi) of the Rules has been omitted. On account of this omission country boats can fish even beyond 3 nautical miles and can go fishing even in the area where the mechanised and deep sea vessels go for fishing. The restriction of 3 nautical miles was imposed in order to see that there are no conflicts between the two sections of fishermen. But strangely the said restriction has been removed in the said Government Order. The country boats and mechanised fishing vessels are now allowed to operate in the same area. The entire object of the rule 6 (vi) to prevent clashes and maintain law and order was totally disregarded by the deletion of rule 6 (vi) of the Rules by G.O.Ms.No.1 dated 5-1-2000. In spite of the order of this Court in Writ Petition No. 2853/1995 etc. dated 01-12-2000 the authorities are creating hurdles for deep sea fishing vessels stating that they are not complying with various conditions. The members of the Association had also issued a legal notice on 20-3-2002 to the Assistant Director of Fisheries stating their difficulties. They also informed the MPEDA/5th respondent by letter dated 22-3-2002 stating that their deep sea vessels will be going into the sea for fishing from 25-3-2002 onwards and requested their cooperation for the same. The authorities strangely refused to renew the licences to deep sea fishing vessels or issue fresh licences. When the petitioner Association questioned the action of the Assistant Director it was stated that they were now implementing the conditions stipulated in G.O.No.1 dated 5-1-2000. 9. The Director of Fisheries in his Memo dated 22-5-2002 stated that complement of crew referred to in G.O.166 means complete set or provision of crew. Of late most of the country boat fishermen have started fitting their country boats with engines having more than 15 Horse power and also increased the length of their boats to more than 8 metres. Hence 70 per cent of the country boats are no longer to be categorised as country boats but come within the definition of mechanised fishing vessels under the Act. However these country boats get all the benefits under the Act by categorising themselves as country boats. The members of the petitioner Association were called upon to produce their fishing vessels before the Assistant Director of Fisheries for inspection. After inspecting about 15 vessels the Assistant Director rejected the request for licence for all stating that the vessels did not have aneroid parameter insurance and complement of crew by his proceedings dated 31-10-2002. The Assistant Director in his letter dated 31-10-2002 informed the petitioner that unless certified complement of crew and vessel insurance are produced deep sea fishing licence will not be issued to its members. Such a condition is arbitrary and illegal. The members of the petitioner Association have not been allowed to carry on their fishing operations for the past 55 days on some pretext or the other. The deep sea vessels fish beyond 3 nautical miles and can go for multi day fishing. The entry and exit to the port is restricted and cannot be violated. The Assistant Director of Fisheries at the instance of the country boat fishermen issued the impugned order dated 4-12-2002 arbitrarily by impounding the vessels of the members of the petitioner and stopping supply of diesel without specifying the provisions of the State Act 8/83 alleged to have been violated. The Joint Director of Fisheries has issued the impugned order dated 10-01-2003 suspending the vessels of the members of the petitioner. He is alleged to have issued notice and there is no representation. The Joint Director has issued the impugned order stating that the members of the petitioner have violated Section 5 (3) of the Act 8/83. The said section 5 (3) will not be applicable to the deep sea vessels and it is not possible for the deep sea vessels to violate time schedule as entry and exit is restricted. 10. In W.P.No. 39122/2002 the petitioner Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya sangam prayed for certain directions alleging that the members of Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association and in particular individual respondents 8 to 12 are not deep sea fishing vessels and that they are violating the provisions of the Act 8 of 83 and prayed for a direction to the authorities to implement the time schedule distance licence and registration rules by enforcing Sections 6 7 9 10 15 16 and 18 of the Act 8/83. 11. The Additional Secretary to Government Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department Madras-9 has filed a common counter affidavit in Writ Petition Nos. 40865 and 40866/2002. The stand of the Government is briefly stated hereunder: As per Section 10 of the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act 1983 (Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983) the owner of every fishing vessel shall register his fishing vessel either under section 11 of the Marine Products Export Development Authority Act 1972 (Central Act 13 of 1972) or under Section 10 of the Tamil Nadu Act 8/1983. The Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983 have been made for implementing the various provisions of the said Act 8 of 1983. While implementing the Act several instances of practical difficulties were brought to the notice of the authorities by the mechanised fishing boat operators and country craft fishermen. Notification by the Government under Section 5 of the said Act laying down reasonable restrictions and the conditions for the operation of the fishing vessels were issued for effective implementation. The Tamil Nadu Act 8/1983 was enacted to provide for the regulation restrictions and prohibition of fishing by fishing vessels by the mechanised and non-mechanised fishing vessel operators in the sea along the whole or part of the coastal line of the State. The then Rule 6 (vi) of the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983 was framed to protect the interest of non-mechanised fishermen to fish within 3 nautical miles without hindrance since the majority of non-mechanised fishing vessels may not go beyond 3 nautical miles. In the agreement entered into between the erstwhile V.O.Chidambaranar and NellaiKattabomman Districts mechanised and non-mechanised traditional craft fishermen on 10-1-93 and in subsequent agreements the mechanised boat fishermen never raised any objection for operation of traditional crafts beyond 3 nautical miles. More over in conformity with the Government policy the traditional crafts were motorised with lower powered engines. In order to assuage the feelings of the both sectors Government after careful consideration deleted the Rule 6 (vi) of Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983 by Notification-vide G.O.Ms.No.1 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department dated 05-01-2000. As per Section 5 (3) and (4) of the Tamil Nadu Act the mechanised fishing vessels and deep sea fishing vessels shall fish beyond 3 nautical miles from the coast line of the State. After careful consideration the Government deleted the said Rule 6 (vi) by Notification in G.O.Ms.No.1 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department dated 05-01-2000 since the restriction of 3 nautical miles already imposed on the non-mechanised fishermen is inconsistent with their traditional rights. If the mechanised fishing vessels including deep sea fishing vessels conduct the fishing activities in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Tamil Nadu Act Rules and other Notifications under the Tamil Nadu Act 8/1983 there is least chance for any conflict between the country crafts and mechanised fishing vessel fishermen. As directed by this Court in W.P.Nos. 2853 3316 6793/1995 the department is implementing the provisions of the Act and Rules to avoid conflicts between two classes of fishermen in fishing. The country boats which fulfil both the conditions such as horse power and length prescribed are only classified as mechanised fishing vessels. Therefore the very purpose of the motorising the country craft is to enable them to go in distance quickly and to return to the shore after fishing. By allowing the country crafts and motorised country crafts by deleting Rule 6 (iv) of Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983 the Tuticorin District Mechanised Fishing vessel operators are not affected since the non-mechanised fishing crafts fishermen are using gill nets hook and line and boat seine. The country craft fishermen will not conduct multi day fishing with their low powered engines. Their fishing operation is limited to the same day. For restoring the traditional rights already enjoyed by the non-mechanised fishermen Government have taken decision for deleting the Rule 6 (vi) of Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983. Under Section 5 (4) of the said Act the deep sea fishing vessel shall fish beyond 3 nautical miles and operate beyond 3 nautical miles and at the depth of more than 25 fathoms-vide Notification issued in G.O.Ms.No. 166 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department dated 22-08-1995. This demarcation was done between the mechanised fishing vessels and deep sea fishing vessels. 12. The Director of Fisheries Chennai-6 has also filed a separate counter affidavit in W.P.No. 45822/2002. It runs as follows: As per Section 10 of Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act 1983 the owner of every fishing vessel shall register such fishing vessel either under Section 11 of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) Act 1972 (Central Act 13 of 1972) or under Section 10 of the Tamil Nadu Act 8/1983. The Merchant Shipping (Amendment)Act 1983 was enacted to ever registration and regulation of fishing boats besides important matters relating to civil liability for oil collision damage protection of interest of Indian Shipping from foreign intervention etc. The fishing vessels of the petitioners Association were not registered under Merchant Shipping Act. Few of the mechanized fishing vessels operators were operating their boats having power below 120 HP and measuring in length less than 15 mts. they modified the design by raising the free board thereby increasing the length (overall) and also altering the horse power with turbo mechanism and claiming that the engine developments 122 HP. By this they want to operate these boats as deep sea fishing vessels. Under the guise of deep sea fishing vessels they intend to operate these vessels as mechanized fishing vessels. After rgistration they have applied for the licence with the Authorised Officer permitting them to operate as deep sea fishing vessels. The authorized officer inspected the said deep sea fishing vessels but they have not fulfilled the prime conditions such as insurance coverage to the vessels and crew. The Government in order to bring down the operational cost of the mechanised fishing boat fishermen extend the subsidy as reimbursement of the excise duty on high speed diesel (HSD). When such mechanised fishing boats ventured into sea in violation of the Act and Rules subsidized diesel supply to the petitioner Association is not extended in view of the impounding the vessels. The orders passed by the Authorised Officer is only the exercise of powers conferred under Section 15 of the Act for impounding the vessels. If the petitioner is aggrieved they should have resorted to the appeal provision as contemplated under Section 14 of the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act 1983. It is not the intention of the Authorised Officer to harass the members of the petitioners Association and he has acted according to law. The traditional right of country craft fishermen is undeniable the country craft fishermen are allowed for conducting fishing beyond 3 nautical miles. In the vast expanse of the sea had the members of the petitioners Association conduct the fishing according to the provisions of the Act there will not be any conflict between these two sectors. The conditions imposed are not illegal or arbitrary and there is no bias and mala fides. The impounding order was issued to the members of the petitioner Association who were violated the provisions of the Act. 13. In the light of the above pleadings I have heard Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram learned senior counsel for the Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association; learned Advocate General for Government of Tamil Nadu and officers of Fisheries Department; and Mr. Joseph Thatheus Jerome learned counsel for Kattumara Meenava Samudhaya Sangam. 14. As observed earlier except Writ Petition No. 39122 of 2002 the other Writ Petitions are by Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association. In so far as W.P.No. 40864/2002 Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram learned senior counsel for the petitioner Association submits that the Memo dated 22-5-2002 issued by the Director of Fisheries and the consequential order of the Assistant Director of Fisheries dated 31-10-2002 in so far as they relate to the condition that five complement of crew should be present in the deep sea fishing vessel is arbitrary illegal and also ultra vires the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act 1983 (Act VIII of 1983) (hereinafter referred to as Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983) and the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 (Act XLIV/1958) (hereinafter referred to as Central Act XLIV of 1958). The Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act 1983 (Act VIII of 1983) as amended by G.O.Ms.No. 166 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department dated 22-8-95 and G.O.Ms.No. 1 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department dated 05-01-2000 classified various vessels being used in sea. They are: Section 3. Definitions.- In this Act unless the context otherwise requires - (e) fishing vessel means a ship or boast whether or not fitted with mechanical means or propulsion which is engaged in sea-fishing for profit and includes- (i) a deep sea-fishing vessel (ii) a mechanised fishing vessel (iii) a catamaran (iv) a country craft including Vallom or (v) a canoe engaged in sea-fishing; (f) xx xx (g) mechanised fishing vessel means a ship or boat fitted with mechanical means of propulsion having an engine of not less than fifteen Horse Power but not more than one hundred and twenty Horse Power and measuring in length not less than eight metres and not more than fifteen metres but does not include a deep sea-fishing vessel and a deep sea-fishing vessel means a ship or boat fitted with mechanical means of propulsion having an engine of not less than one hundred and twenty Horse Power and measuring in length not less than fifteen metres;It is clear that a mechanised fishing vessel is one having an engine of more than 15 Horse Power and below 120 Horse Power and should measure more than 8 metres and not exceeding 15 metres. Such of those vessels with lesser Horse Power and length are all non-mechanised fishing vessels as defined under Section 3 (e)(iii) (iv) and (v) of the Act. The vessels exceeding 120 Horse Power and length of more than 15 metres are deep sea fishing vessels. 15. All fishing vessels defined under Section 3 of the Act are required to be registered under Section 10 of the Act except those that are registered under the Marine Products Export Development Authority Act 1972 (Act 13 of 1972) (hereinafter referred to as MPEDA). However mechanised fishing vessels deep sea fishing vessels and others are all required to be licensed under Section 7 of the Act read with Rule 4 4A and any fishing vessel of whatever category they may belong cannot cause or allow to use that vessel for fishing in view of the express prohibition under Section 8 of the Act without complying with Rules 4 and 5 as amended. Under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1958 and the Amendment Act 1983 the fishing vessels are also covered with regard to registration and operation. It provides for appointment of crews with certificates of competency issued by the Mercantile Marine Department under the Ministry of Surface Transport Government of India. As per clauses (d) and (g) of sub-section (4) of Section 76 for manning both deck as well as Engine certified skipper Grade II and certified Engine Driver are to be appointed. It is also mandatory on the part of the deep sea fishing vessels to comply the above provision. It is brought to my notice that in conformity with the above Act the Government notified the conditions stipulating provisions for complement of crew life saving appliances operation timings with regard to entering and leaving the port etc. As rightly pointed out by the learned Advocate General the impugned orders in Writ Petition No. 40864/2002 were issued only as executive instructions to the Assistant Director of Fisheries (Marine) Tuticorin with regard to complement of crew accordingly the said letter issued to the petitioner Association is not illegal and not ultravires. The Assistant Director of Fisheries has reproduced the grades of the certificate of competency and insisted the set of crews stipulated in Merchant Shipping Act to be appointed in deep sea fishing vessels. As rightly pointed out by the learned Advocate General the Marine Products Export Development Authority is only a registration authority and not a regulatory authority on marine fishing. It is also brought to my notice that as on date no licence for deep sea fishing vessels has been granted as they have not satisfied the conditions laid down in Notification in accordance with Section 5 (4) of the Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983. 16. The Central Act XLIV of 1958 deals with crew qualifications according to the tonnage and power of the vessels. Section 76(4)(a) to (g) deals with certificate of competency and Section 78 deals with grades of certificates for skipper second hand Engineer Engine driver of a fishing vessel. There is no dispute that every fishing vessel i.e. deep sea and mechanised are bound to comply with the requirements of the Central Act and also that of the State Act for the purpose of venturing into the sea. Accordingly while the area of operation of the State Act is upto 12 nautical miles (territorial waters) from the shore line of the State concerned the area of operation of the Central Act encompasses from the shoreline to the 12 nautical miles up-to 24 nautical miles and beyond into the International Zone. Fishing vessels i.e. deep sea and mechanised (as defined under the Tamil Nadu Act VIII/1983) are by the said Tamil Nadu Act and Rules permitted to operate in territorial waters after obtaining registration and the licence as applicable to their category as hereunder:a)Mechanised Fishing vessels-upto 120 HP-beyond 3 nautical miles-from 5 A.M. to 9 P.M. on the same day (as per Schedule to Section 5 (3) of the Act; andb)Deep sea fishing vessels above 120 HP beyond 3 nautical miles in waters above 25 fathoms - from 6 hours to 18 hours.Inasmuch as their area of operation begins from the coast line beyond territorial waters the deep sea vessels and mechanised vessels are mandatory bound to comply with the requirements and regulations of the Tamil Nadu Act VIII/1983 and the Central Act XLIV/1958 referred above. It is demonstrated before me that all members of the Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association are all business-men and not traditional fishermen carrying on the avocation of fishing. Though all of them registered under the EMPEDA it is pointed out that they do not possess licence as deep sea fishing vessel in accordance with the Tamil Nadu Act VIII/1983 and also do not possess requirements of insurance life saving appliances fire fighting devices radio appliances and complement of crew as required under the said Tamil Nadu Act. They also do not possess any registration under the Central Act XLIV of 1958 and they also do not possess complement of crew life saving devices fire fighting appliances and radio equipments etc. under the Central Act. 17. Learned Advocate General as well as learned counsel appearing for Kattumara Meenava Samudhaya Sangam relying on an earlier decision of mine rendered in Writ Petition No. 2853/1995 etc. batch dated 1-12-2000 (MECHANISED BOAT FISHING DEVEPMNT. ASSOCIATION TUTICORIN v. THE COLLECTOR CHIDAMBARANAR DIST. TUTICORIN) would contend that the conclusion arrived at therein are applicable to the relief prayed for in these writ petitions. There is no serious dispute with regard to the same. Inasmuch as the order dated 22-5-2002 which is under challenge in W.P.No. 40864/2002 is an inter-departmental proceedings clarifying G.O.Ms.No.166 dated 22-8-95 and also clarifying the details as made in the Merchant Shipping Act XLIV/1958 the said proceedings cannot be construed as unreasonable or arbitrary. On the other hand I am satisfied that the same is valid and legal. The directions sought for to grant the licence de-hors the said requirement is liable to be rejected in view of the fact that all fishing vessels are bound by the Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983 as well as the Central Act XLIV of 1958. The consequential order dated 31-10-2002 referred to in the later part of the relief sought for in the writ petition cannot be projected by the Association. Even otherwise in the said order refers only about the absence of insurance certificate and the said claim cannot be faulted with. 18. Coming to the relief prayed for in W.P.Nos. 40865 and 40866 of 2002 in the former case the Association seeks to quash Clause 2 of the Notification i.e. G.O.Ms.No. 166 dated 22-8-95 in so far as it restricts fishing by deep sea vessels within 25 fathoms along the Tamil Nadu coastal line. In the latter case the Association seeks to quash Clause 4 (c) of G.O.Ms.No.1 dated 05-01-2000 deleting Rule 6 (vi) of the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules 1983. Under Section 5 (1) (a) of the Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983 the State Government has power to regulate restrict or prohibit the fishing in any specified area by such class or classes of fishing vessels. Under Section 5 (2) (a) the Government in order to protect the interests of traditional fishermen and under Section 5(2)(b) to conserve and regulate fishing in a regular basis are entitled to issue Notification. It is also demonstrated before me that in order to maintain law and order by taking into consideration the rights of traditional fishermen to fish anywhere in the sea with their limited resources which they had been enjoying all along the Government after satisfying itself and relying on various materials and to avoid clashes fatal accidents etc. it has deleted Rule 6 (vi) by G.O.Ms.No.1 dated 5-1-2000 and also demarcated the area for the deep sea vessels to the depth of 25 fathoms by G.O.Ms.No. 166 dated 22-8-1995. I am satisfied that both the Government Orders are reasonable and the same were taken by the Government in public interest to protect the poor traditional fishermen and to conserve fish wealth and to maintain law and order which is within the parameters of section 5 (2) of the Act. Contrary argument made by the learned senior counsel for the petitioner Association is liable to be rejected. The same cannot be faulted or held to be unreasonable or ultravires with the Act or the Constitution as claimed. Further under Section 3 (e) of the Act several classes of vessels such as deep sea fishing vessels mechanised fishing vessels catamaran country craft including vallom or canoe are defined. Under Section 3 (g) vessels fitted with mechanical means of propulsion are defined. Accordingly any craft which is fitted with mechanical means of propulsion with the Horse Power below 15 HP and measuring in length less than 8 metres are defined as non-mechanised fishing vessels even though the power is used for its propulsion. As rightly argued by the respondents it is a consideration given to the traditional sectors to have low powered engines for reaching the fishing ground and return back to the shore soon. It is demonstrated by the learned Advocate General that while framing the Rules initially in 1983 under the Act under Rule 6 (vi) the country crafts are allowed to operate within 3 nautical miles and shall go for hook and line boat seine fishing. However it is stated that when it was challenged in 1988 the Government after calling for opinion of the different fishermen Associations and after careful consideration decided to delete the Rule 6 (vi) since the traditional rights enjoyed by the non-mechanised fishermen and to do fishing anywhere is undeniable. It is to be noted that the country crafts are using only passive gears i.e. gill nets and their operation is limited to the same day. All the mechanised fishing boats including the deep sea fishing vessels should operate beyond the 3 nautical miles. More over the deep sea fishing vessels shall operate beyond 3 nautical miles and also at a depth of more than 25 fathoms. It is brought to my notice that 1 fathom = 6 feet; 100 fathoms = 1 cable; and 10 cable = 1 nautical miles approximately. It is pointed out by the learned Advocate General as well as Mr. Joseph Thatheus Jerome that had the members of the petitioner Association appointed the certified crew members who are qualified to man the vessel they will adhere to their stipulation by making regular soundings to watch the depth. As of now the members of the petitioner Association are not having any crew with the required knowledge in handling of the deep sea fishing vessels. In those circumstances it is contended that the Fisheries Department insisted for the certified crews. It is the case of the respondents that any prudent seafarer will know the practice of soundings and read the nautical charts. There is no dispute that recent innovation of navigational instruments to be fitted in deep sea fishing vessels such as Global Positioning System (GPS) will ascertain the actual position of the boats on the sea. In so far as the deletion of Rule 6 (vi) is concerned inasmuch as the public policy is to encourage the traditional sector to take up motorisation of country crafts the petitioner Association cannot claim the same as violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since the two categories namely traditional craft fishermen and mechanised fishing boat fishermen are not belonging to the same classes of people. 19. Coming to the relief prayed for in Writ Petition No. 45822/2002 the Association is seeking to call for and quash the order of the Assistant Director of Fisheries/3rd respondent dated 4-12-2002 and the consequential letter dated 13-12-2002 and also to restrain the respondents therein from interfering with the lawful fishing activities of the members of the petitioner Association as long as they comply with the provisions of Tamil Nadu Act VIII/1983. The impugned orders cannot be said to be without jurisdiction in the light of Section 15 of Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983. Section 15 gives powers to various officers to enter and search fishing vessel. As per that provision if the Authorised Officer has reason to believe that any fishing vessel is being or has been used in contravention of any of the provisions of the Act (Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983) or of any notification issued or rule made thereunder or any of the conditions of the licence granted under the Act enter and search such fishing vessel and impound such fishing vessel and seize any fish found in it. In the light of the overwhelming power the action even on presumption and impounding is a necessary consequence; hence the impounding of the fishing vessel or the ban on sale of subsidized diesel to mechanised vessels trying to operate as deep sea vessels pursuant to their letter dated 04-12-2000 in contravention to the licence conditions and timing prescribed under the Act and the Rules are justifiable. 20. It is also brought to my notice that even if the members of the petitioner Association were aggrieved by the action taken under Section 15 they have to pursue their remedy under Sections 17 and 19 of the Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983 before such officers prescribed under the Act and on this ground also the writ petition is liable to be dismissed. I am satisfied that the impugned orders dated 4-12-2002 and 13-12-2002 impounding the self proclaimed deep sea vessels (as per the petitioner) which are only modified mechanised fishing vessels and curtailing their movement by not distributing subsidised diesel is well within the parameters of ensuring peace law and order; accordingly the same cannot be interfered by this Court. 21. It is also brought to my notice that initially the members of the petitioner Association were operating the mechanised fishing vessels under a licence granted as per the Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983 the specification for deep sea fishing vessels is very narrow i.e. i) mechanised fishing boat means-Not less than 8 Mts. and not more than 15 Mts. Not less than 15 HP. But not more than 120 HP. ii) Deep Sea fishing vessel means-Not less than 15 Mts. Not less than 120 HP. It is specifically stated in the counter affidavit that in order to circumvent the provisions of the Act the members of the Association increase the length (overall) by raising the free board and also altering the horse power with turbo mechanism and claiming that the engine developments 122 HP and under the guise of deep sea fishing approached the Authorized Officer for issuance of deep sea fishing licence after re-registering with the MPEDA. It is also stated that the members of petitioner Association were requested to fulfil the conditions for issue of licence as contemplated in Section 5 (4). It is further stated that on inspection as they have not fulfilled the above conditions the licence for deep sea fishing was refused. According to the respondents in violation of the condition laid down in the Schedule to the Act [i.e. contemplated as Section 5 (3)] the mechanised fishing operators have not returned to the shore within the time schedule. Therefore in exercise of powers conferred in Section 15 the Authorized Officer impounded the fishing vessel on 04-12-2002. It is also complained that since the members of the petitioner Association have taken out their boats for fishing in order to restrict their operation the Authorized Officer has requested the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Corporation Tuticorin not to issue diesel to the mechanised fishing boats as the Government is extending subsidy on diesel as reimbursement of excise duty. In the light of the information furnished I am of the view that the action of the respondents cannot be faulted with. 22. In the last writ petition viz. W.P.No. 2066/2003 (yet to be admitted) the Association has prayed for quashing of the orders passed by the Adjudicating Officer dated 10-01-2003 temporarily suspending the licence issued for mechanised fishing vessels. It is seen that pursuant to the refusal of the Authorised Officer granting licence to the deep sea fishing vessels the members of the petitioner Association have violated the timings as per the Schedule to the Act. Consequent to the said act of the members of the petitioner Association the Authorized Officer impounded the fishing vessels in exercise of powers conferred under Section 15. It is stated that in spite of the said order the impounded vessels were taken away by the members of the petitioner Association for fishing and also violated the timings. Therefore the 3rd respondent requested the Manager Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Corporation Tuticorin/4th respondent not to supply the diesel to the mechanised fishing boats since the Government is giving subsidy for the diesel drawn by the mechanised fishing boats. As rightly argued by the learned Advocate General as the impounding vessels were taken away by the operators the Authorized Officer framed charges and sent the same to the Adjudicating Officer for disposal. It is further pointed out that the Adjudicating Officer called for an enquiry under Section 17 (2). It is also brought to my notice that as the persons concerned have not appeared before the Adjudicating Officer an ex-parte orders temporarily suspending the licence granted to the petitioners were passed. In this regard it is relevant to refer that the licence which was granted is only for mechanised fishing vessel and not for deep sea fishing vessel. It is also brought to my notice that 43 boat operators by availing the appeal provision filed appeals under Section 19 against the orders passed by the Adjudicating Officer/Joint Director of Fisheries Tuticorin. It is also brought to my notice that on 10-9-2002 one mechanised fishing vessel No. VOC 446 collided with vallam VOC 3032 in which 3 country craft fishermen on board were died. Because of such kind of incidents the District Administration insisted that mechanised fishing vessel operators should abide the time schedule of the Act. It is also brought to my notice that the District Administration conducted meetings on 30-9-2002 and 13-10-2002 with both sectors and resolved that there is no restriction to the fishermen to do fishing as per the provisions of the Act. It is stated by the respondents that the mechanised fishing vessel operators themselves have not ventured for fishing and in the meanwhile they approached this Court questioning complement of crew in respect of deep sea fishing vessels. It is also stated that under the guise of deep sea fishing vessels all the mechanised fishing vessels have ventured into sea for multi day fishing from 04-12-2002 without valid fishing licence and thus violated the provisions of the Act. Therefore the Authorized Officer of Tuticorin has issued notice to the boat owners for impounding the vessels and initiated action for stopping the supply of diesel. It is also brought to my notice that in such circumstances in order to maintain public order the District Administration conducted another peace meeting on 17-12-2002. In the said meeting it is stated that the mechanised fishing vessel operators have assured that they shall abide by the time schedule of the Act. However according to the respondents none of the mechanised fishing vessel operators abide by the time schedule but conducted multi day fishing from 17-12-2002. In those circumstances the Authorised Officer issued notice to the boat owners for impounding their vessels. Since the boat operators have taken out their vessels in breach of their assurance given in the meeting without abiding the provisions of the Act they were charge-sheeted and the Adjudicating Officer called for an enquiry under Section 17 (2)of the Act and thereafter passed an ex-parte order suspending their licence temporarily. It is also stated that only for 3 days i.e. from 14-12-2002 to 16-12-2002 the boats were detained. In the light of the above details the claim of the Association is liable to be rejected. 23. The other writ petition via. W.P.No. 39122/2002 is filed by Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya Sangam alleging that the members of Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association and in particular respondents 8 to 12 in that writ petition are not deep sea fishing vessels and they are violating the provisions of Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983 and also prayed for appropriate direction to the Authorities to implement the time schedule distance licence and registration rules by enforcing the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act VIII of 1983. In view of the discussion and conclusion in the earlier paragraphs with reference to the claim of Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association the statutory provisions of both Central and State Act Rules Notification and Orders issued then and there and in the light of the conclusion that there is no merit in the claim of the Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association for interference by this Court in any of the orders I am of the view that no further adjudication is required in the above writ petition. Undoubtedly it is the duty and responsibility of the Government themselves more particularly the District Administration to implement the time schedule distance licence and registration rules etc. by strict enforcing the relevant provisions applicable to both the sectors in order to facilitate venturing into the sea and to prevent the law and order among the two sectors namely members of the Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association and members of the Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya Sangam. 24. Under these circumstances Writ Petition Nos. 40864 40865 40866 45822 of 2002 and 2066 of 2003 filed by the Mechanised Boat Fishing Development Association are dismissed. Writ Petition No. 39122 of 2002 filed by Kattumara Meenava Samuthaya Sangam is ordered with the above observation. No costs. Consequently connected W.M.Ps. and W.V.M.Ps. are closed.