Rule 17(7) of the TN Marine Fishing Regulation Rules’ fishing restrictions are neither unlawful or discriminatory: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by the Poompuhar Traditional Fishermen challenging Rule 17(7) of the amended Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules, 1983. The matter was between Poompuhar Traditional Fishermen v. The State Of Tamil Nadu & Others. [WP/430/2022 (Gen. Misc.)] and was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Munishwar Nath Bhandari (Acting C.J) and Hon’ble Mr. P.D. Audikesavalu (J).

The petitioner complained to the High Court over the aforementioned rule, claiming that 15 lakh fishermen in Tamil Nadu will suffer as a result of the limitation. According to advocate J. Sushil Kumar, who was representing the petitioner, other states, such as Kerala, do not put the same restrictions on fishing in coastal regions as the State of Tamil Nadu. The petitioner stated that Rule 17(7) in Tamil Nadu discriminated against fishermen due to the identical circumstances and the lack of comparable laws in other states . Thereby a petition was filed challenging the Rule 17 (7) of the amended Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules, 1983.


Rule 17(7) reads as follows:

“No owner or master of any fishing vessel shall carry on fishing by pair trawling or fishing with purse-seine net using any fishing vessel or craft whether country craft or mechanized boat irrespective of their size and power of the engine in the entire coastal area of the State.”


The Honorable Court noted that the limitations placed on the use of fishing gear, particularly the prohibition on fishing with a pair of trawls or a purse-seine net, are not in violation of the Constitution.

While accepting the Government Pleader’s arguments and the precedents cited, the court added that the petitioner’s claim that the State of Kerala does not have any limitations of the same nature is not factually accurate by citing State Of Kerala v. Joseph Antony. In S. Harikrishnan, the Madras High Court gave instructions on how to successfully carry out the March 2000 government order. The court came to the conclusion that Rule 17(7) neither violates any constitutional rights nor leads to any discrimination. The court also emphasized in its conclusion that each state has the freedom to choose its own fishing regulations, separate from those of other jurisdictions. 

The writ petition was thus rejected because the challenged Rule did not include any illegality or unconstitutionality.

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