NEW DELHI, Feb 24 – The central government Monday told the Supreme Court that it was not invoking the anti-piracy SUA Act against the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.
The central government in an affidavit told the court that the matter where anti-piracy law could be invoked against two marines was referred to the law ministry and Minister Kapil Sibal said in his opinion Feb 21 that the “provisions of SUA are not attracted in this case”.
“In the circumstance, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the charge sheet reflects this opinion,” the centre told the court.
However, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J. Chelameswar that the probe would continue to be carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
This was opposed by counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who said once the anti-piracy law goes, the investigation by the NIA was also out of the question.
However, Vahanvati told the court that the matter was settled by the apex court vide its April 16, 2013, judgment and it could not be re-opened.
The court also issued notice to the centre on a plea by the two marines that they cannot be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA.
The court gave marines Massimilliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone a week’s time to file their substantive application to back their plea opposing the NIA probe.
The court gave the centre another week’s time to file its reply and directed the listing of the matter before a three-judge bench.
Lattore and Girone have been held in India since February 2012 when they allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen, mistaking them for pirates, off the coast of Kerala.
The marines were serving as security personnel on Italian oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie crossing the Indian Ocean.
India claims jurisdiction in the case while Italy alleges the incident took place in international waters and the marines should be tried in their home country. — IANS