NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned all court proceedings in India relating to the trial of two Italian marines in connection with the 2012 killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast till January 2016.
A three-judge bench comprising Justice A R Dave, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Amitava Roy allowed the joint request of India and Italy that the proceedings here be adjourned for now.
“A five-member tribunal (ITLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal) would be set up, probably, in a month to decide the issue of jurisdiction,” Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, said.
The order came in pursuance of an interim order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) asking India to maintain “status quo” in the case and suspend judicial proceedings till jurisdictional issue about which country has the right to conduct the trial is decided. “Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and shall refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the Annex VII arbitral tribunal or might jeopardise or prejudice the carrying out of any decision which the arbitral tribunal may render,” the tribunal had said in its 27-page order, read out by ITLOS president Vladimir Golitsyn from Russia. The court also instructs both Italy and India to submit their initial report by September 24.
Advocate Soli Sorabji, appearing for marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, said the matter be “adjourned sine die” till another tribunal decides jurisdictional issue and can be revived by either of the parties. “No. We will not adjourn it sine die,” the Bench said and fixed the matter for further hearing in the third week of January 2016.
Earlier, Italy had told the apex court that it has invoked international arbitration challenging India’s jurisdiction to try two of its marines. The ASG had said that India, being a signatory to the International Convention, would participate in the arbitration proceedings.
The ASG, however, had asserted that India had jurisdiction to try the Italian marines, Latorre and Girone, as the alleged offence had taken place in the Indian waters.