Recording the government’s no objection, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed both the Italian marines, who allegedly killed a couple of fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, to remain in Italy until India’s jurisdiction to try them is decided.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha told a bench led by Justice Anil R Dave that marine Salvatore Girone was allowed to go back in May and Massimilano Latorre could also be permitted now to stay in Italy on imposition of the same conditions.
“We have no objection (to let the second marine stay in Italy too). Our concern was about the jurisdiction of this court when the international tribunal proceeds with the arbitration proceeding. The tribunal has said that this court continues to have jurisdiction over them. There is a sovereign undertaking before the international tribunal,” the ASG told the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy.
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Senior advocate Suhail Dutt, appearing for the Italy government and the marines, said they were ready to furnish requisite undertakings and also file affidavits to show their compliance.
K N Balgopal, the senior counsel appearing for Kerala, said that in effect the case was being adjourned sine die but there should be some order to enable the apex court and parties remain aware about the arbitration proceedings.
At this, the bench passed the order letting Latorre remain at home till an international tribunal decides whether India had the jurisdictional right to make the marines stand trial here. It however asked the government to submit report in the court after every three month apprising it of the progress made at the international tribunal.
In May, the court had modified Girone’s bail conditions and asked him to file an affidavit “accepting and recognising that he remains and shall, even upon his departure from India, continue to remain under the authority of the Supreme Court of India.” This condition, however, may not stand the rigour of the principles on territorial jurisdiction and raises questions on whether an Indian court may exercise authority outside India.
Girone was further also asked to surrender his passport to the Italian authorities, report to the local police station in Italy regularly, and not make any attempt to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence. The court said his bail would be cancelled if he was found to have violated any of the conditions imposed.
Further, the Italian ambassador was directed to file an undertaking before Girone’s departure that he shall be made to return to India within one month of the decision of the arbitral tribunal requiring him to do so, or as directed by the court.