The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it has agreed to participate in international arbitration proceedings in the case related to the two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, accused in the 2012 shooting of two Indian fishermen.
It also told a bench led by Justice Anil R Dave that it had no objection to allowing Latorre to extend his stay in Italy by another six months on medical grounds, even as the court pointed out that its “discretion may get curtailed” if the government agreed to the concession. The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy, then allowed Latorre’s third application for extension since September last year.
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In the last week of June, the Italian foreign ministry had announced its move to invoke international arbitration, saying the decision was taken after three years of negotiations with India and the “impossibility of arriving at a solution to the controversy”. In his application, Latorre sought a stay on all proceedings in India since his country had invoked arbitration.
Responding to the plea, Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha said: “I am not opposing the prayer for extension (of stay). But the prayer is somewhat different in the new application. They have taken reference to arbitration as a ground too. We don’t have a problem if this is extended on the medical ground though.”
He added that there was a “consensus” regarding international arbitration, invoked by Italy to decide the question of territorial jurisdiction.
“So far as arbitration is concerned, we will go before the arbitrator and raise all our objections there. This arbitration is invoked under a convention to which India is a party. We are bound by the convention,” he said. “We will raise questions of maintainability… we will say as a sovereign country, the crime has been committed here,” he added.
Senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for Italy and its marines, said India would have to nominate its arbitrator for the arbitration proceedings and since this would take time, Latorre should be allowed to remain in Italy for six months. He added that the government has no objection to this. As the ASG nodded, the bench pointed out: “If you agree on this, our discretion gets curtailed. We hope you understand that.”
Apart from responding to the plea over jurisdiction of an Indian court, the bench also sought the government’s affidavit on the issue of whether the NIA investigation in the case was valid or not.
The next hearing is scheduled to be held on August 26.