CREATING a furore,a top law officer representing the Centre today told the Supreme Court that the Kerala government has no jurisdiction to even file an FIR against the Italian marines involved in the killing of two Kerala fishermen.
As both the Ministry of External Affairs and Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy disputed this,Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Harin Raval stood by his opinion,saying that he had only stated the law when asked for an opinion by a Bench of Justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale.
The Bench too had termed Raval’s submission “very unfortunate”. “Two Indian citizens have died. Let us not forget it,” Justice Gokhale said.
If the findings of a division bench of the Kerala High Court on the location of the Italian ship were correct,the state government had no jurisdiction to file an FIR against the Italians,the Additional Solicitor General told The Indian Express. The Kerala HC bench had held that Enrica Lexie was located 20.5 nautical miles away from the coast,much beyond the territorial limit of 12 nautical miles,and flying a foreign flag.
“It was my personal opinion. I was only stating the legal position in the matter,” Raval said.
The MEA spokesperson said the Centre has not changed its position and continues to maintain that India has the jurisdiction to investigate the alleged crime.
Chandy argued that Kerala had launched the action against the marines after taking legal advice. “The Kerala government has the authority. Under what circumstances has the Centre taken this view,we do not know,” he said.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by Enrica Lexie,that has been detained for the past two months over the involvement of Italian marines on board it in the killing of the fishermen. No purpose was being served by refusing to let it sail,say the ship’s owners.