The Italian Government on Tuesday objected to the Centre’s decision to handover the investigation into the murder of the two fishermen off Kerala by the two Italian marines to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Ambassador of Italy and the two marines, told a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice (CJI) Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen that the NIA had registered an FIR in the case here last month, under a law which was not mentioned. “(The)NIA can investigate an offence only if it is under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002. PUVA is an anti-terrorism Act. It is not like Section 302 of the IPC,” he contended.
According to him, the question is, can the NIA come in and invoke the PUVA? The counsel also wanted to know since the trial would take place in a special Court, what would be fate of the appeal.
Further,Rohatgi pointed out that the NIA had no jurisdiction to conduct the investigation as the charges which have been slapped against the marines did not come under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act. Replying to this, Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati told the Bench that the Centre could rope in any institution for conducting the probe.
“It can’t be rubber-stamping whatever the Kerala government did. The CBI is overburdened.” “I spoke to the NIA (top brass). They said that they would complete the investigation within 60 days,” the AG added.
However, Rohtagi insisted that the NIA was empowered to probe only a scheduled offence and its investigation of the same was a violation of the apex court ruling.
Reacting to the CJI’s query, “the other question would be?,” Rohtagi said, “the judgment has to be reopened.”
Following this, the CJI said, “We will pass the orders” and adjourned the matter until April 22 for passing the orders.
It was on February 15 last year that the two marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- who were on board an Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ allegedly shot dead the two fishermen after mistaking them for sea pirates.