It is entirely untoward for the National Investigating Agency to invoke the anti-piracy law in the hope of seeking death for the Italian marines on trial. Italy, under the European Union, is among the countries that have abolished the death penalty. Moreover, I seem to recall that India had assured Italy that its marines would not face the death sentence.
What’s more, the marines may well really have been under the impression that they were firing at pirates, as “An unjustified delay” (Feb. 4) observed; they ought to be given the benefit of the doubt, considering the drastic alternative. It is only so much the court can do to urge the Centre to reach an amicable settlement. The marines have already spent two years in custody; they may be released and asked to pay a sizeable compensation to the families of the deceased.
We have already spoiled the gradually improving ties with the United States over the Khobragade affair. Do we now need to antagonise Italy and the EU too?
The issue is a sensitive one for a democracy as large as ours. With the court having ordered the Union government to conclude the matter in a week, the media glare along with international attention on the issue has taken an upturn. India should take this opportunity to show it has a big enough heart. Of course, the Centre will want to take care to ensure that it does not, in its haste to reach a speedy conclusion, compromise on justice. That appears to be the only factor justifying the delay.