MHA revokes death penalty clause

When NIA initially booked the two marines under this section of SUA, Italy objected to it.

New Delhi | Updated: February 8, 2014 6:25 am
Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre.(AP file) Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre. (AP file)

Giving in to sustained pressure from the Ministry of External Affairs and following the legal advice given by Attorney General Goolam E Vahanati, the Ministry of Home Affairs Friday reversed its stand on the issue of seeking death penalty for two Italian marines allegedly involved in gunning down two unarmed Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012.

The MHA revoked the clause in the stringent anti-piracy laws, which attracts the death penalty, in the chargesheet against the two marines. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, will now file its charge-sheet under Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation Act (SUA), 2002 and the Indian Penal code but will not invoke Section 3 (1)(g)(i) of the SUA, which carries the death penalty.   When NIA initially booked the two marines under this section of SUA, Italy objected to it.

Though the two marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, would continue to be charged under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, which also attracts the death penalty, the possibility of them getting the death sentence is very low since their action may not fall in the rarest of rare category.

Incidentally, at a meeting taken by Vahanvati on February 4, the MHA had strongly opposed any move to completely revoke the charges under SUA. Even the note sent by Vahanvati to the MHA talks of the “concern of the MHA with regard to complete deletion of SUA”.

The MHA had some time back given prosecution sanction to NIA under the stringent law that prescribes the death penalty, while the MEA has been insisting on toning down of the charges on the plea that it could have serious effect on India’s relations with Italy and other European Union nations.

While the MEA has been pointing to the sovereign assurance given by the External Affairs Minister that the marines would not be given death sentence, the MHA has been of the view that there was no need to give such an assurance.

The NIA had also expressed its reservation to the assurance given by the External Affairs Minister, saying that neither the NIA nor MHA was consulted before giving such an assurance. During the high meeting the only way out out of the logjam was to remove the clause that provides for the death sentence. It was after this decision that MHA on Friday issued orders giving sanction to NIA under all the other sections but 3 (1) (g) (i), both under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against SUA and the IPC.

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  1. A
    Affendi abdullah
    Feb 8, 2014 at 4:09 am
    Send this guys to gallow if in Italy no Indian or any party you will be send to the gallow why India worry about relation economic when this European need India more they Indian needs them.strong India will worry thou neighbour.the s n Chinese too.
    Reply
  2. A
    Affendi abdullah
    Feb 8, 2014 at 4:09 am
    Send this guys to gallow if in Italy no Indian or any party you will be send to the gallow why India worry about relation economic when this European need India more they Indian needs them.strong India will worry thou neighbour.the s n Chinese too.
    Reply
  3. H
    himalaya
    Feb 8, 2014 at 7:21 am
    There are lots of incidents of piracy in the Arabian sea. Infact, the hightest in the w world, especially Somalian pirates are known to be very active in this area. Hence, when these Italian marines guarding a ship saw a small ship coming fact their way, they mistook them to be pirates and shot them dead. It so happened that it was a case of mistaken ideny, as it later turned out that they were innocent Indian fishermen. The Italians apologized sincerely, and even paid high compensation to the family of the deceased. So, I think that the Indians are on the wrong in taking strong action against the Italians. I feel, if these persons had been from any other nation, say USA or France etc, then India would have not taken so strong action against the marines, as they acted in self defence to save the ship, as they thought at the time they fired. It is only because they are Italians, and the Congress head is also of Italian decent, that India is forced to take strong action, otherwise it would give wrong signal in politics. This is a case just like a person has a licenced gun at home, and some person comes near the home during the night and acts in very suious threatening way, and the owner of the gun has to use the gun in self defence, fearing for the safety of his own children in the home. Now, is it murder or self defence? The intention of the Italians has to be seen; and I feel that the intention of the Italians was purely self defence. Indians should also appreciate that due to the extremely high piracy in Arabian sea, even Indian ships are now carrying armed Indian soldier to defend the Indian merchant ships. Now, if some fast small boat comes towards the Indian ships, and the Indian soldiers mistake them to be pirates and fires upon them and kills them; then if it turns out that they are not pirates but just Somali fishermen; then would the Indian soldiers be tried for murder and hanged in Somalia? The Indians are doing wrong in this case, and we should be honest and strong enough to realise this and make amends and immediately release these two Italian marines. India is not a banana republic; but in this case it is behaving like one, just because these two are from Italy and one important politician in India also is from Italy and she does not want to appear to be favouring the Italian marines. I think the other political parties should come out in the open, like Modi, and say that the Italian marines are innocent, so that it becomes easier for the Congress party to safely release these two innocent Italian soldiers, without fear of political backlash from BJP.
    Reply
  4. H
    himalaya
    Feb 8, 2014 at 7:21 am
    There are lots of incidents of piracy in the Arabian sea. Infact, the hightest in the w world, especially Somalian pirates are known to be very active in this area. Hence, when these Italian marines guarding a ship saw a small ship coming fact their way, they mistook them to be pirates and shot them dead. It so happened that it was a case of mistaken ideny, as it later turned out that they were innocent Indian fishermen. The Italians apologized sincerely, and even paid high compensation to the family of the deceased. So, I think that the Indians are on the wrong in taking strong action against the Italians. I feel, if these persons had been from any other nation, say USA or France etc, then India would have not taken so strong action against the marines, as they acted in self defence to save the ship, as they thought at the time they fired. It is only because they are Italians, and the Congress head is also of Italian decent, that India is forced to take strong action, otherwise it would give wrong signal in politics. This is a case just like a person has a licenced gun at home, and some person comes near the home during the night and acts in very suious threatening way, and the owner of the gun has to use the gun in self defence, fearing for the safety of his own children in the home. Now, is it murder or self defence? The intention of the Italians has to be seen; and I feel that the intention of the Italians was purely self defence. Indians should also appreciate that due to the extremely high piracy in Arabian sea, even Indian ships are now carrying armed Indian soldier to defend the Indian merchant ships. Now, if some fast small boat comes towards the Indian ships, and the Indian soldiers mistake them to be pirates and fires upon them and kills them; then if it turns out that they are not pirates but just Somali fishermen; then would the Indian soldiers be tried for murder and hanged in Somalia? The Indians are doing wrong in this case, and we should be honest and strong enough to realise this and make amends and immediately release these two Italian marines. India is not a banana republic; but in this case it is behaving like one, just because these two are from Italy and one important politician in India also is from Italy and she does not want to appear to be favouring the Italian marines. I think the other political parties should come out in the open, like Modi, and say that the Italian marines are innocent, so that it becomes easier for the Congress party to safely release these two innocent Italian soldiers, without fear of political backlash from BJP.
    Reply
  5. j
    jazz350
    Feb 8, 2014 at 12:49 am
    India is a banana republic that cannot uphold its own laws. It is caving into the pressure exerted by Italy and the EU. Murder has to be punished severely by the Indian courts. Merely removing a clause to appease the countries is a travesty of justice. It is time that India developed a spine.
    Reply
  6. j
    jazz350
    Feb 8, 2014 at 12:49 am
    India is a banana republic that cannot uphold its own laws. It is caving into the pressure exerted by Italy and the EU. Murder has to be punished severely by the Indian courts. Merely removing a clause to appease the countries is a travesty of justice. It is time that India developed a spine.
    Reply
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