Kerala High Court today stayed till July 30 further proceedings before a local court in Kollam against two Italian marines in connection with the shooting to death of two Indian fishermen from cargo ship Enrica Lexie.
The stay was issued by Justice C T Ravikumar while admitting a petition by the marines, Latore Masimiliano and Salvatore Girone, challenging the sessions court order declining their plea for English translation of the charge sheet and other documents in Malayalam and help of an official interpreter.
Kollam sessions judge P D Rajan on July 17 had turned down their plea holding that there is no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code to provide translated versions of the charge sheet and documents.
The judge had also posted the case to July 25 for commencement of preliminary hearing of charges on the maintainablity of offences and allegations.
Challenging the July 17 order, the marines approached the High Court, contending that they have the right to know the contents of the charge sheet and evidence collected by the prosecuting agency against them.
The two, engaged for security of the Italian vessel, were arrested on February 19 for allegedly opening fire and killing fishermen Jalestine and Ajesh Binki, who had ventured out to sea from nearby Neendakara in a boat with nine others.
On May 30, the Kerala High Court had granted them bail with stringent conditions and they are now staying in Kochi.
After hearing arguments, the judge noted that the petition raises important questions of law as to the interpretation of Section 207 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Senior advocates Suhail Dutt and P Vijay Bhanu, appearing for the marines, drew the court's attention to the Section and argued it has to be interpreted in a manner in consonance with the constitutional mandate of Articles 20, 21 and 22 of the Constitution, which embodies the universal principle of fair trial.
They also pointed that the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights ratified by India and referred to Art14(3) of the Covenant, which mandated that prior to framing of any charge, the entire case has to be explained to the marines in Italian, the only language they understand.
The GP submitted that Section 207 of the CrPC does not mention that translated copies of documents have to be given to the accused and by providing copies of the documents, compliance of Section 207 has been done.