(Prayer: Writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying for issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to consider the petitioner 's representation dated 09.04.2020 for lifting restrictions on fishing by allowing country crafts to venture into sea by imposing regulatory conditions and also provide adequate compensation to them for the lock down period during which fishing was prohibited and consequently sanction immediate relief assistance of Rs.500/- per day per fishing family for the fisherman operating mechanized fishing vessels for the entire ban period.)
M. Sathyanarayanan, J.
1. The petitioner claims to be a Public Interest Litigant and also the President of Fishermen Care, a registered Association. The petitioner would state that on account of COVID-19 outbreak, the livelihood of fishermen and the allied workers have been affected to a great extent and on account of complete lock down announced by the State Government at the relevant point of time, even the small non-mechanised country boats are not allowed to venture into the Sea for the purpose of fishing.
2. Mr.L.P.Maurya, learned counsel for the petitioner would submit that after some point of time, the lock down has been lifted, the problem came in the form of ban for fishing for a period of 61 days and as such, the fishermen using mechanised boats, have been affected and they could not venture into the Sea on account of the said Ban Order and therefore, the petitioner is constrained to file this writ petition as a Public Interest Litigation, praying among other things, sanction of immediate relief assistance of Rs.500/- per day per fishing family for the fishermen operating mechanized fishing vessels for the entire ban period.
3. It is also fairly brought to the knowledge of this Court by the learned counsel for the petitioner that ban period of 61 days had been reduced to 47 days vide order of the Assistant Commissioner [Fisheries], Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Department of Fisheries, Government of India dated 25.05.2020 and at least, for a period of 14 days, Ex-gratia @ Rs.500/- per day per fishing family, may be paid.
4. Mr.G.Rajagopalan, learned Additional Solicitor General of India, assisted by Mr.Srinivasa Murthy, learned Senior Panel counsel for the Central Government/1st respondent has drawn the attention of this Court to the above cited order dated 25.05.2020 and would submit that taking into consideration the difficulties and problems faced by the fishermen, especially, who are operating the mechanized fishing vessels, the above cited order has been put in place and it is not as if the fishermen community alone have been affected and almost all of them have been affected on account of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic virus and there may not be any positive direction for payment of Rs.500/- per day per fishing family can be ordered as sought for by the petitioner and prays for dismissal of the writ petition.
5. Mr.V.Jayaprakash Narayan, learned Government Pleader appearing for the 2nd respondent has drawn the attention of this Court to the counter affidavit filed by the 2nd respondent and would submit that the Government of Tamil Nadu had issued orders sanctioning an amount of Rs.83,54,96,000/- by advancing the disbursement of fishing ban relief assistance @ Rs.5,000/- per family to the marine fishermen families of 13 Coastal Districts during fishing ban period 2002 and with regard to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic virus is concerned, a sum of Rs.97 Crore had been sanctioned towards payment of one time ex-gratia amount of Rs.1000/- to each of all the members of the Tamil Nadu Fishermen Welfare Board, so as to minimize the hardships faced by them and as on date, a sum of Rs.92.09 Crore has been disbursed to 4,63,265 fishermen beneficiaries and further, the disbursement to the remaining beneficiaries is also in progress.
6. It is also brought to the knowledge of this Court by the learned Government Pleader that during every ban period, the Government of Tamil Nadu is extending the relief assistance to the marine fishermen families every year and during this period, dry ration articles have also been provided to the families and a proposal has also been sent to the Government of India to consider the advancement of fishing ban period for the year 2020 and taking into consideration of the same, it has also been reduced to 47 days and the Hon'ble Minister for Fishing has also issued Press Statements as to the reduction of the ban period from 61 days to 47 days and since the grievance of the petitioner has been addressed, no further orders are necessary in this writ petition.
7. The learned Government Pleader has also drawn the attention of this Court to G.O.Ms.No.70, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries [FS3] Department dated 27.04.2020 as well as to G.O.Ms.No.233, Revenue and Disaster Management [DM-II] Department dated 12.05.2020 and G.O.Ms.No.189, Revenue and Disaster Management [DM-II] Department dated 11.04.2020 respectively and would submit that as per G.O.Ms.No.40, Cooperation, Food and Consumer Protection [F1] Department, dated 21.03.2020. a sum of Rs.1000/- + dry ration has been provided to all the ration card holders and if the fishermen are holding ration cards, they would have availed the said benefit also.
8. This Court has carefully considered the rival submissions and also perused the materials placed before it.
9. A perusal and consideration of the materials placed and also appreciation of the rival submissions, would disclose that the ban period has been reduced from 61 days to 47 days and that apart, the State Government had also provided necessary financial assistance as well as dry ration to the affected fishermen families and the said fact has also been disclosed in detail in the counter affidavit filed by the 2nd respondent.
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petitioner also prays for a positive direction as to the payment of Rs.500/- per day per fishing family operating mechanized fishing vessels and as rightly pointed out by the learned Additional Solicitor General, it is as if only the fishermen alone are affected on account of imposition of complete lock down and lifting of the complete lock down to partial lock down and everybody across wide spectrum has also been affected. In the light of the above facts and circumstances, this Court is unable to issue any positive direction as sought for by the petitioner. 11. Therefore, the writ petition stands closed as no further orders are necessary. No costs.