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Updated: May 3, 2012 01:29 IST

Court allows Italian ship to leave India

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Technical experts on their way to board the Italian tanker Enrica Lexie to conduct search operations on board off Kochi. File photo: Vipin Chandran
The Hindu Technical experts on their way to board the Italian tanker Enrica Lexie to conduct search operations on board off Kochi. File photo: Vipin Chandran

But crew, remaining marines must be present whenever needed by Indian authorities

In a conditional relief to Italy, whose merchant ship was seized following the shooting to death of two Kerala fishermen by two marines on board, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the vessel to leave India, along with the crew and the remaining marines.

But a Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale directed them to make themselves available whenever they were required by Indian authorities during the investigation into the shooting and prosecution of the two marines, who are in judicial custody.

Setting aside the Kerala High Court's order restraining Enrica Lexie from leaving India, the Bench directed the ship owner to execute a bond for Rs. 3 crore before the Registrar-General of the High Court as a surety for the presence of the crew and the vessel whenever required.

“In view of the clear position taken by the Kerala government that [the] vessel was not [the] object of [the] crime, nor [do the] circumstances create suspicion of offence by the vessel, the seizure of [the] vessel cannot legally stand. In view thereof, the entire reasoning given by the Division Bench of the High Court does not survive. So, the order has to go,” the Bench said.

It directed that the crew members make themselves available before the authorities within five weeks of receiving summonses or notice from Indian agencies. It also ordered that the vessel be brought before the legal authorities within seven weeks of receiving summonses or notice.

The Bench made it clear that its order would not affect the Kerala government's right to conduct the investigation and the prosecution of the two marines.

At the start of the proceedings, the Italian government said the incident was related to the affairs between two sovereign nations and assured the court that its marines would be available whenever they were required. But the Centre and the Kerala government vehemently objected to the submission, after which Italy modified its views on some issues.

The court also made it clear that it was not going into the legality of the agreement between the foreign government and the family members of the deceased fishermen.

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I fervently hope that the ship WAS within 12.5 n miles (hence within
Indian jurisdiction) when the fishermen were shot to death. If its
established it was not, one of our State Governments will have become a
ruthless vigilante with scant regard for the law. And that is a cheery

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: May 3, 2012 at 15:57 IST

“In view of the clear position taken by the Kerala government that
[the] vessel was not [the] object of [the] crime, nor [do the]
circumstances create suspicion of offence by the vessel, the seizure of [the] vessel cannot legally stand." Then on what basis was the ship detained all these days? The apex court has said the action of the Government of Kerala is illegal. Then is it not proper to ask an explanation from the Kerala Government? The judgement is a just one though the clause that the ship also should be made available is a bit tall order. In what way the presence of the ship will help. It is just a "mute" inanimate witness for the crime.

from:  vkguptan
Posted on: May 3, 2012 at 05:23 IST

I think that is correct. Ship was not the weapon used in the crime. Just the person who shot should remain in India till the court wants him to be.

from:  vignesh
Posted on: May 3, 2012 at 02:25 IST

Why for everything Sonia Gandhi should be blamed?This was a fair
decision by SC.I think prejudice is one of the worst weakness of us. We shouldn't blame Sonia for this too.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: May 3, 2012 at 01:19 IST

Fair enough. After all, why should the crewmen, shipowners, and all the other marines on board the vessel be penalized for the mistakes of those two murders?

from:  Aniruddha
Posted on: May 3, 2012 at 01:18 IST

Banana Republic

from:  Shekhar
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 19:43 IST

Ha well done Sonia and now the family has got the money including the lawyers who cares for that ship. Thats why people in other countries are saying that India and Indians can be bought. Another way of corruption.

from:  Bob
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 19:38 IST

The immediate kin of the two fisherman accepted compensation and got their justice and withdrew the case. How about justice for the victims for a change? The charge of manslaughter and investigation bringing out the circumstances leading to it must be done through due process and the charged mariners must undergo the due process notwithstanding the withdrawal of case against them by the victims' relatives against compensation.
The Indian state cannot withdraw the case without trial as its helpless unarmed fishermen have been coldly shot to death even when they have not violated international law nor indulged in any illegal fishing. India is not a banana republic or a retro-gate state where rule of law does not apply. Due process to bring justice to the victims is a judicial reality that all concerned will have to deal with

from:  rn iyegar
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 15:42 IST

This is really amazing! Supreme Court took objection to blood money
being paid by Italy to the family and striking a 'deal'. Fair enough.
Then what does the SC do when India goes pays blood money in Gulf to release a few Indians who were behind bars for murdering another country's national there? Our moral standards are so selective that we fail to look in the mirror.

from:  N.K. Raveendran
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 15:31 IST

Government of Kerala and the hyperactive one up man ship politicians
antics of the state has resulted in them shooting at their foot.
Every body in Kerala tried to derive political mileage out of the
tragic event totally side tracking the event. Thankfully it was left
to august judges of the Supreme Court to reclaim some sanity from a
total self made avoidable mess.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 15:07 IST

Curtains are down on Part 1 of the epic Voyages of the Italian Ship
Enrica Lexie. The apex court has given a very good judgement. The bond
money of 3 crore is fine. And also the instructions to the crew and
ship's owner that crew should be available if necessary and the ship
should be made available for any inspection is also very just. But
there is the other matter lying with the court. Is Indian Government
authorised to take up this case or not. That decision also is urgent
as Italy is contesting it. It will be good if the Italian Marines are
charged as then they can apply for bail. They can be given conditional
bail as they are not a danger to the society as such and cannot
influence the case. Meanwhile the question of which country should
take up the case can be settled.

from:  vkguptan
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 14:57 IST

The decision of honourable Supreme Court to release the ship once again proved the dignity of Indian judicial system.The act of apex court demonstrates the fact that no nation or individual can escape from the due process of law.

from:  Manikandanmakkoth
Posted on: May 2, 2012 at 14:25 IST
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