A Delhi court on Tuesday fixed March 31 for hearing arguments on National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) plea to take “appropriate steps” to secure the custody of two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012.

Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar posted the case for March 31 after NIA’s prosecutor and counsel for accused duo Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone said that the matter was in the Supreme Court where arguments will be heard after two weeks.

“This case has to be adjourned for two weeks,” senior prosecutor Ahmed Khan said, adding that certain issues regarding the probe agency were being debated upon before the Apex court.

The court, however, directed the counsel appearing for the two marines that they have to move exemption application for accused before the court if they do not appear for the hearing. “It is directed that till the time hearing on the present plea (of NIA) commences, the counsel for the accused shall move application seeking exemption for the accused...,” the court said and posted the matter for March 31.

During the hearing, National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that they are “ready” with the charge sheet in the case. The Centre had on Monday told the apex court that the two marines will not be prosecuted under the stringent anti-piracy SUA law that attracts death penalty as maximum punishment.

The Italian government, however, had questioned in the apex court the jurisdiction of NIA to investigate the case, saying that the agency cannot probe offences under the Indian Penal Code and the bench had agreed to adjudicate the matter. The case pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Mr.Latorre and Mr.Girone on board ‘Enrica Lexie’. Fearing a pirate attack, the two officers had allegedly fired at the fishermen’s vessel off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, killing two of the fishermen. The marines were arrested on February 19, 2012.

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