All complaints and other legal proceedings against Italian marines to be withdrawn

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday gave its seal of approval to the award passed by the Lok Adalat under the High Court Legal Service Committee, endorsing the settlement on compensation reached between the legal heirs of the two fishermen killed allegedly by Italian marines on board the ship Enrica Lexie off the Kerala coast.

Justice A.M. Shaffique issued the order when the Lok Adalat's award came up before the judge.

Counsel for the legal heirs told the court that demand drafts for Rs.1 crore each had been handed over to the two families. Counsel also submitted that in terms of the settlement, they would withdraw all complaints and other legal proceedings initiated by the legal heirs before various courts, including the High Court.

Passing the award, the Lok Adalat headed by the former High Court judge, K. John Mathew, said counsel for the parties had explained the details of the agreement to the legal heirs. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Adalat was satisfied that the settlement was beneficial to the legal heirs. The Adalat noted that the original demand drafts for the settled amount had been handed over to the legal heirs.

In an affidavit, the legal heirs said they “forgave” the accused marines in the name of Jesus. They also “wished” that the marines' “inconvenience and suffering may come to an end at the earliest.”

The High Court directed the High Court Registry to return the bank guarantee of Rs.3 crore furnished by the agent of the ship following the filing of compensation claims by the legal heirs of the fishermen in the High Court.

Earlier in the day, the court of Justice P.S. Gopinathan recorded the submissions made by counsel that all contentions and oral submissions raised by them against the plea of the Italian government for quashing the criminal case against the two marines be “treated as not pressed” and sought to “disregard” all the allegations in their affidavits.

The legal heirs had impleaded themselves as respondents in the writ petition filed by the Italian government representative and the two marines challenging the first information report on the ground that the police had no jurisdiction to lodge a case against the marines as the shooting incident took place in international waters.

The legal heirs, while opposing the plea, justified the stand of the State government that it had the power to take action against the marines since the incident occurred in the territorial waters of the country.

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