Italy on Tuesday questioned in the Supreme Court NIA’s jurisdiction to probe the case against its two marines for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen, a contention rejected by the government which assured the court that investigation will be completed in 60 days.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Italian government contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir that NIA, which has been asked by the Centre to probe the case, has no jurisdiction to conduct the investigation as the charges which have been slapped on the marines are not covered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act.
He submitted that the NIA can probe the case only if charges under Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002, are also slapped against the marines and the same cannot be done in view of apex court verdict to prosecute them only under the IPC, CrPC, Maritime Zones Act and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati objected to the Italian government’s contention and said that NIA can probe the case and assured the court that the investigation will be completed in 60 days.
“NIA is not restricted under the NIA Act. CBI is extremely over-burdened and the government chose NIA as an institution to probe the case,” Mr. Vahanvati said.
The court after hearing both sides adjourned the matter to April 22 for passing orders.
The two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were on board an Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ when they had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, last year.