As expected, Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal has told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that charges under the stringent Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation Act (SUA), 2002, against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012 should be dropped.
Sources said when the apex court resumes hearing of the matter on Monday, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati would inform the court about the Law Minister’s latest opinion.
However, it remains unclear how the MHA would explain the U-turns by it, especially in the light of an earlier agreement where Vahanvati, disregarding strong objections from the MHA, had advised the government to retain all charges, including those under SUA, except the one which provides for death sentence.
At a meeting called by Vahanvati, the MHA had opposed complete dilution of charges under SUA. The government will also have to explain how, if all charges under SUA are dropped, the NIA can continue to investigate the case since it would lose legal competence to do so.
A decision to refer the matter back to the law ministry was taken at a meeting called by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.