New Delhi: Italy on Monday made a fresh plea before the Supreme Court saying it has invoked international arbitration challenging India's jurisdiction to try two of its marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen three years ago, as the court allowed one of them to remain in Italy for six more months on medical grounds.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) PS Narasimha told an apex court bench, headed by Justice AR Dave, that India, being a signatory to the International Convention, would participate in these arbitration proceedings.
The ASG asserted that India had jurisdiction to try the Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore 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.
The bench, which also comprised Justices Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy, sought response from Union of India on the fresh plea of the Italian government that it has invoked international arbitration against alleged territorial jurisdiction of India to try the marines for homicide.
It asked the government to file its reply to the fresh Italian plea within two weeks and gave two weeks after that to the Italian government to file a rejoinder, if any.
The bench also asked senior advocates Soli Sorabjee and KTS Tulsi, appearing for the marine, not to delay the hearing of the petition by which the jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency to probe the case has been challenged.
Tulsi had said the plea challenging NIA's right to probe the deaths was filed as the Centre, in an affidavit, had said that the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (known as SUA Act) does not apply in the case.
The court asked Latorre, who underwent a heart surgery in Italy, to file an undertaking that he would abide by its conditions within a week and ordered that the six-month extension would begin from July 15.
On April 9, the court had allowed Latorre to remain in Italy for three more months till today on medical grounds.
Latorre, who had suffered a brain stroke on August 31 last year, was allowed by the apex court on September 12 last to go to Italy for four months.
Earlier, the apex court had taken on record an
"unequivocal" and "unambiguous" undertaking by Latorre regarding the dates of departure and arrival back to India.
It had also taken on record the undertaking furnished by the Italian Ambassador on behalf of the Republic of Italy that the ailing marine would abide by all terms and conditions set for his travel to his native country.
The apex court, on January 14, extended Latorre's stay in Italy by three more months after he underwent a heart surgery.
The marines' plea was referred to this court by a bench headed CJI HL Dattu saying it was not proper for it to take up the application of the marine seeking extension of stay on health grounds, as it had earlier expressed some reservations and made certain observations on a similar plea.
The complaint against the Italian marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of the fishing boat 'St Antony', in which the two Indian fishermen were killed when the marines started firing on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.