The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the state government on a petition moved by an association of fishermen for revoking the suspension of their fishing contract licence. Their licences are under suspension as per the order of Sabarkantha district collector following representation by a group of Brahmins and also in view of a public interest litigation (PIL).
The division bench of Justice Anant S Dave and Justice Biren Vaishnav has sought the government’s reply by September 9.
The petition has been moved by Asha Matsya Vikas Khedut Mangalam Mandal through its president Ashaben P Makwana, 35, a resident of Jawangadh village in Sabarkantha district.
The petition mentions that this year on February 2, the contract for fishing was suspended because “certain persons belonging to Brahmin community had raised objection against fishing in Pratapsagar lake on the ground that their religious feelings would be hurt if fishing activity is permitted in the lake.”
The petition said the government issued an advertisement for tender for fishing contract in June 2017. The association’s tender was accepted and on October 24, the contract was awarded for fishing in Pratapsagar reservoir for five years with retrospective effect from July 2017 to June 2022.
By the time the tender was awarded to the association, one Hiralal Punamlal Joshi from the district had filed a PIL in the High Court, challenging the tender on the ground that fishing in the Pratpasagar lake amounted to hurting religious feelings.
Joshi withdrew the PIL in April this year and also wrote a letter to the district collector’s office, saying that he didn’t have any objection to the fishing tender.
The petition mentions that the fishing contract awarded in October, 2017 had a rider that the contract was subject matter of the outcome of the PIL.
The petitioner’s lawyer Subramaniam Iyer said that despite the withdrawal of the PIL by Joshi, the district authorities have not revoked the suspension of the fishing licence.
The petition mentions that the fishermen’s association had filed an application through RTI, which revealed that some people from Raygadh village, close to the lake, had submitted a memorandum to the Sabarkantha collector in June 2017.
The petition says, “From the text of the memorandum it appears that certain persons belonging to Brahmin community had raised objection against fishing contract being awarded pursuant to advertisement on the ground that their religious feelings would be hurt if fishing activity is permitted in the Pratapsagar lake.”