“It’s a question of Indian prestige and govt. will be justified in taking toughest steps”
Feeling “insulted and shocked” by Italy’s stand, senior advocate Harish Salve on Wednesday made it clear that he would no longer represent that country in court, after Rome decided not to send back the two marines to India to face trial on charges of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast.
Talking to journalists here, Mr. Salve said: “I have communicated my decision to withdraw from the case. Strictly speaking, there is no case against them as it has been quashed. But the case raises interesting legal issues. Where a sovereign republic has invoked Article 32 of the Constitution and approached the Supreme Court, given an undertaking, would it be immune from contempt of court?”
The lawyer said, “This is an unprecedented situation. You invoke the jurisdiction of the court, give a solemn undertaking and then renege” on it. The Supreme Court acted with nobility and grace when it permitted the marines to go home to spend time with their families and vote in Italian elections. The Government of India agreed to this as a “friendly gesture” to a “friendly country.” They were allowed to travel on a personal undertaking given by the Italian ambassador.
But Italy’s decision was “a breach of faith ... Now it’s a question of Indian prestige, prestige of the Supreme Court and the prestige of all of us is at stake and I think that the Government of India will be justified in the toughest steps it takes.”
Law firm too kept in dark
Meanwhile, law firm Titus and Co., through which the Italian government filed the case in the court, said in a statement: “We came to know of the decision of the Government of Italy, not to return the two marines to India, only through media reports late night on Monday. We were not informed, consulted or forewarned at any point of time concerning this decision. We have advised that this matter be resolved by the Government of Italy at the very earliest in accordance with the undertakings given to the Supreme Court of India and in compliance with its February 22 order.”