Italian marines case: SC suspends court proceedings in India

The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended all court proceedings in India relating to the trial of two Italian marines in connection with the 2012 killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast.

PTI| Updated: Aug 26, 2015, 18:35 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended all court proceedings in India relating to the trial of two Italian marines in connection with the 2012 killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast.

The order came in pursuance of an interim order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) asking India to maintain "status quo" in the case and suspend judicial proceedings till jurisdictional issue about which country has the right to conduct the trial is decided.

A three-judge bench comprising justices AR Dave, Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy allowed the joint request of India and Italy that the proceedings here be stayed.

"A five-member tribunal (ITLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal) would be set up, probably, in a month to decide the issue of jurisdiction," Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, said.

Senior advocate Soli Sorabji, appearing for marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, said the matter be "adjourned sine die" till another tribunal decides jurisdictional issue and can be revived by either of the parties.

"No. We will not adjourn it sine die," the bench said and fixed the matter for further hearing in the third week of January, 2016.

Earlier, Italy had told the apex court that it has invoked international arbitration challenging India's jurisdiction to try two of its marines.

The ASG had said that India, being a signatory to the International Convention, would participate in the arbitration proceedings.

The ASG, however, had asserted that India had jurisdiction to try the Italian marines, Latorre and Girone, as the alleged offence had taken place in the Indian waters.

The marines, who were on board ship 'Enrica Lexie', are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, under the misconception that they were pirates.