New Delhi: India has decided to legally challenge the death sentence passed on five fishermen from Tamil Nadu by a court in Sri Lanka.
"It is true that a lower court in Sri Lanka has passed the death sentence to five Indian nationals. The Government of India, through a lawyer, will contest that decision. The legal process not yet complete; this is the first step that has been taken," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the media here.
"Our High Commissioner has had detailed discussions with lawyers in Colombo. There has been a miscarriage of justice and we would like to appeal against that. Currently, we are waiting for the final copy of the judgment," he added.
Akbaruddin also emphasised upon the seriousness with which the government was taking this judgement.
"There is concern in our government over this judgment. We have conveyed our concern to Sri Lankan authorities at the highest levels, which includes the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary and Foreign Minister," he said.
"There is a legal architecture between India and Sri Lanka available to address the matter. Executive actions can only be triggered after the legal process is complete. Having said that, we are confident that truth always prevails," he added.
The Colombo High Court had on Thursday sentenced five Indians and three Sri Lankans to death on charges of drug smuggling. The eight accused were taken into custody for heroin drug running in 2011.
The Indian fishermen from Rameswaram - P Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath, and J Lanklet - were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in November 2011. They claim that they have been falsely implicated in the case and their lawyers have said they would file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the sentence.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has strongly condemned the Sri Lankan court's ruling of death sentences to the fishermen.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he strongly condemned the unjust conviction.
He said the Government of Tamil Nadu has consistently insisted that these fishermen were innocent and that the case has been foisted on them and also that the evidence against the fishermen in the court is a fabrication.