The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Italian government to tell it by Wednesday if it would ensure the presence of four marines of its merchant navy ship Enrica Lexie in India during criminal proceedings against their two colleagues, accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala cost.
A bench of justices R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale put the matter for Wednesday after the Italian government’s counsel and senior advocate Harish Salve said he needs time for a specific instruction from his client on the issue.
Mr. Salve said he wants to be very clear before making any submission about the Italian authorities’ stand on if they are willing to accept the jurisdiction of the Indian courts as there is also a question of sovereign immunity involved in it.
Appearing for Kerala, former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had on Monday sought imposition of stringent conditions for release of the ship and compel the presence of the crew and marine officers during the proceeding against their two colleagues.
The court reiterated its concerns that the criminal proceedings here should not be defeated.
The apex court yesterday had termed Italy’s compromise with the kin of two Indian fishermen shot dead by its marines, as “illegal” and “astonishing” and had said that they were “playing” with the Indian process of law and felt Kerala should have filed an objection.
The bench said the mouths of the families of the two victims — Jalastine and Binki — have been “locked” by the Italian government by paying each an amount of Rs 1 crore, defeating the Indian legal system.
The apex court had also sought the Italian government’s stand on the question of releasing the impounded ship with certain conditions after the owner of the vessel claimed that their detention had cost the company Rs 200 crore.
Mr. Subramanium had, however, told the court that Kerala was not a party to the compromise and had reserved the right to challenge it before higher forum.