NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today exempted the Centre from filing before it the status report on the progress made by the international tribunal in deciding the jurisdiction issue in the case of Italian marines, accused of killing Indian fishermen
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said the Centre need not file a status report after every three months before this court and asked it to rather file a final report when the tribunal decides whether India or Italy can try the marines. The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, are accused of killings two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012.
"Petitioners (Latorre and Girone) shall be liable to adhere to the time schedules fixed in relation to hearing before the international arbitral tribunal," the bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said, adding that the final award of the tribunal be put up before it. The court, meanwhile, asked Additional Solicitor General P S Narsimha, appearing for the Centre, to keep the Kerala government informed about the developments which may take place from time to time before the tribunal.
On September 28, 2016 the apex court had allowed Latorre to remain in his country till the international arbitral tribunal decides the jurisdictional issue. The apex court had said all the conditions which were imposed on Girone would be applicable on Latorre as well besides putting a condition on the government to submit to it the three-monthly report about the case's progress at the tribunal.
The court's direction had come on a plea by Italy seeking modification of bail conditions of Latorre to enable him to remain in that country till jurisdictional issue was decided by the international tribunal. The apex court had on September 8, 2016 decided to hear Italy's plea on behalf of Latorre who had sought urgent hearing on the ground that an earlier court order was valid till September 30, 2016.
While relaxing Girone's bail conditions on May 26, the apex court had allowed him to go to his country till the jurisdiction issue was decided. The apex court had earlier imposed four conditions on Girone including that he has to report to a police station in Italy on the first Wednesday of each month and Italian authorities have to inform the Indian Embassy in Rome about it.
The second condition was that he will not tamper with any evidence, nor influence any witness in the case. Thirdly, Girone has to give an undertaking that he will remain under the jurisdiction of Supreme Court and lastly, if found violating any of these conditions, his bail will be cancelled, the court had said.
The marines, who were aboard the Italian-flagged commercial oil tanker 'Enrica Lexie', are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012. The complaint against the marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of fishing boat 'St Antony' in which the two Kerala fishermen were killed when the marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.
On April 26, the apex court had extended till September 30 the stay of Latorre in Italy after it was informed that the international arbitral proceedings would be completed by December 2018 before International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany. The apex court had also asked the Italian Embassy here to give an undertaking to abide by the conditions under which Latorre was allowed to leave India.
The court had earlier stayed all criminal proceedings, including the trial of the two marines. While allowing the joint request of India and Italy, the apex court had said the proceedings would remain stalled till the jurisdictional issue about which country has the right to conduct trial was decided through international arbitration.
The apex court had on August 26, 2015 suspended all court proceedings here in pursuance of an interim order of the ITLOS asking India to maintain "status quo" in the case. The Indian government had then said a five-member tribunal (ITLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal) would be set up, probably to decide the issue of jurisdiction.
The court, in August last year, had extended the stay of Latorre, who had undergone a heart surgery in Italy, by six months while asking him to file an undertaking that he would abide by its conditions.
Latorre, who had also suffered a brain stroke on August 31, 2014, was allowed by the apex court on September 12, 2014 to go to Italy for four months and after that, extensions have been granted to him.