Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone permitted to vote in February 24, 25 elections

The Supreme Court on Friday permitted Italian marines Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, accused in the case of the killing of two fishermen in Kerala, to visit their country to vote in the February 24 and 25 elections.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen, while granting the permission on an application from the marines and the Italian government, questioned the Union government why it was “dragging its feet” on setting up a special court to conduct the trial. The Bench referred to the January 18 order directing the Centre to consult the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to set up a special court and questioned why no steps were taken in this regard.

The CJI asked Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) P.P. Malhotra, “Why the Centre is dragging its feet? Nobody has made an attempt for consultation for setting up of the court.” When the latter said the issue was under consideration, the former said, “How long will it take? If the court had been set up, the trial in the case could have been over. Why is it late? It would have by now decided whether they are guilty or not. We are inclined to allow the prayer.”

The Bench, in a brief order, noted that under the Italian law, the marines were not entitled to cast their votes through postal ballot.

The Bench made it clear that the marines were only being allowed to travel to Italy and they would have to return to India.

When the Bench was informed that their passports were sent on February 16 from Kerala and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had not yet received them, the Bench permitted them to travel on temporary documents.

The Bench said, “The MHA will inform the authorities at the IGI Airport and Central Industrial Security Force about this order. The marines, before leaving and after coming back, shall report to the Chanakyapuri Police Station in accordance with the January 18 order.”

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