Accused of delay in the probe and lacking the jurisdiction to investigate, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has decided to stand for itself before the Supreme Court to defend its position in the fishermen killing case involving two Italian marines.
The NIA has moved for impleadment, requesting the court to hear its side of the story amid a spate of allegations against the pace of its investigation and objections to the agency’s mandate to probe after the Centre dropped anti-piracy charges.
The marines faced a mandatory death penalty under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation Act (SUA) for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012 until the Centre, eventually dropped the SUA charges in the case.
Even as Italy and the marines approached the SC against invocation of SUA charges, the NIA was not made a party to the case by them. During the arguments, their counsel contended that the NIA investigation was sluggish.
Further, after the Centre agreed to do away with the SUA charges, the marines doubted NIA’s jurisdiction to investigate the case since the agency could not only probe the other alleged offences.
All this prompted the NIA to seek impleadment in the matter to have its say.
“The issue proposed to be contended by the counsel for the petitioner directly relates to the jurisdiction of the NIA to carry out investigation in cases, which are directed to be transferred by courts or by the central government under section 6 (5) of the NIA Act and could have impact on a larger number of pending investigations and would require consideration of certain facts and circumstances related to the exclusive domain of crime investigation,” stated its plea.
The application added that the questions are also relevant to the mandate and charter of the NIA.