Chennai: All efforts were being made on a "war-footing" to file an appeal on November 10 in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court challenging the death sentences awarded to five Indian fishermen and Tamil Nadu Government has sent Rs 20 lakh for meeting the legal expenses.
"Steps to file an appeal on November 10 against death sentences to five innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court are being made on a war footing," a state government release said here.
State officials have been following up the issue with Central government officials on the orders of the Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, it said.
Best legal experts had been finalised by the Indian High Commission in Colombo to appear on behalf of the "five innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen", the release added.
"On the orders of the Chief Minister, Rs 20 lakh has been dispatched today to the Indian High Commission to meet the legal expenses for filing the appeal," it said.
As part of efforts to file an appeal, a copy of the October 30 judgment of the Colombo High Court sentencing P Emerson, R Wilson, P Augustus, J Lanklet and K Prasath of Rameswaram has been procured.
On October 30, the Colombo High Court sentenced to death the five fishermen on charges of allegedly smuggling heroin into Sri Lanka. They were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in November 2011.
India has, however, categorically said that the five are innocent and added that an appeal will be filed in the top court in the island nation.
Fishermen in the state have been agitating against the Lankan court verdict while political parties too have sought steps to secure the release of the five.
In August 2012, then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had ordered disbursal of monthly assistance of Rs 7,500 to the families of each of the five fishermen. Besides, she had also sanctioned Rs two lakh (one-time) assistance to each of the five families.