Kerala fishermen row: HC raps Centre

The Kerala HC criticised the Centre for not informing it about their stand on the petition filed by the Italian consulate.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday criticised
the Centre for not informing it about their stand on the
petition filed by the Italian consulate, seeking to quash the
FIR registered against two marines, who had allegedly shot
dead two Indian fishermen off the state`s coast in February.

Justice PS Gopinathan said the government had till date
not informed the court about their stand in the case. "No
proper explanation has been received from the Central
government on the matter," he said.

Advocate General KP Dandapani said the state has
jurisdiction to investigate and conduct a probe against the
marines-- Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone of Italian
vessel `Enrica Lexie.`

He cited a 1981 Central government notification which
states that up to 200 nautical miles, territorial waters are a
part of the country.

Director General of Prosecutions (DGP), T Asaf Ali said
if the FIR is quashed at this stage for want of jurisdiction,
it would be a "disaster".

When the court inquired about the "preferential"
treatment meted out to the two marines lodged in
Thiruvananthapuram jail, he said it was due to "diplomatic

Meanwhile, the petitioners-- Consular General and the
marines, contended that the state police does not have any
jurisdiction to register crime and that the Criminal Procedure
Code relied on by the state has no application in their case.

After a nearly four-hour hearing from 1.30 pm, the court
then reserved its orders.

The two fishermen, Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki,
who had put out to sea on `St Antony` from Neendakara in
Kollam, were allegedly shot dead by the marines on February 15
after suspecting them to be pirates.

The marines have been arrested and charged with murder of
the two fishermen.


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