The Supreme Court on Friday deferred by four weeks the trial in a special court of two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in February 2012.

A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and J. Chelameswar passed this order after hearing senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi on a fresh petition filed by Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone that challenged the investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and pleaded for deferring the trial, which is to begin on March 31.

The Bench issued notice to the Centre, seeking its response.

The petitioners termed the NIA’s investigation illegal. They said though provisions of the SUA Act relating to the death penalty were invoked against them earlier, they were deleted subsequently. Because of this, “the NIA has ceased to have jurisdiction in view of the mandate of Section 3(1) of the NIA Act.”

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