Refuting allegations that India is gradually backtracking in the Italian marines case, Defence Minister A K Antony on Sunday categorically stated that the Centre “will not go back in any way in the case”.
The hearing in the case, which is currently before the Supreme Court, comes up on Monday.
Addressing a press conference here, the Defence Minister said the case against the marines is being handled under the purview of the Indian law.
“There will not be any compromise in the case. We are not going back. The government is pursuing the case against the Italian marines under the Indian law. Currently, the case is being handled by the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs,” he noted. He was answering to a question on whether the Centre is backtracking in the case, who had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012.
Recently there were reports that the Union Law Ministry concurred with the External Affairs Ministry on the non-applicability of the Anti-Piracy Law. There were also discussions within the government on whether the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) Act should be invoked against the marines. The Union Law Ministry is of the view that the SUA Act should not apply in the case against the marines.
On Friday, the apex court had asked the Centre to give a final decision on the issue. The case has been posted for further hearing on Monday. The Centre had reportedly decided to drop the contentious anti-piracy charges against the two marines.
To a query on India’s relations with China, he said the Defence Secretaries of both the countries will meet in New Delhi on Monday. “They will meet in Delhi tomorrow. We have decided to hold joint military exercises of the Army and Air Force,” he said. Antony said both India and China are taking efforts to maintain peace along the border. “Generally, the border is peaceful. However as the border has not been demarcated, there are some occasional incidents. Compared to the past, both countries are able to intervene in an effective manner after the Border Cooperation Agreement with China.”